I awoke feeling unsettled and frightened. Glancing at the clock, I saw that it was only just after three. I needed to be at work at seven the next morning, so I really needed to fall back asleep, but I felt too creeped out.
Rolling over, I then screamed and fell out of bed. Standing beside me was a—
“Don’t be afraid.”
“Y-you’re a ghost.”
“Yes. I’m your grandmother. Surely you recognize me?”
Honestly, it would have been hard to say. The ghost was the mere shimmering outline of a person—obviously female, but I couldn’t tell much else. It kind of sounded like my grandmother, but with an eerie echo that distorted it beyond positive identification.
“What do you want?”
“There is something I need you to do for me. Something I failed to do while I was alive.”
“Alright, that’s it, no more pizza before bed,” I muttered to myself.
“You are not dreaming.”
“And you’re not my grandma.”
“Why do you say that? Of course I am. And I need you to do one simple task for me.”
“My grandmother never asked me for anything in her life.”
“But I did much for you. I cooked for you, and I never forgot a birthday. Now I need only one small favor--”
I laughed. “Now I know you’re not my grandma. So far as my grandmother knew, I didn’t exist. So who are you, really, and what are you doing here?”
The ghost let out a long sigh like a gust of wind.
“You’re not going to help me now, are you?”
“I’m not really sure why I should.”
Suddenly, the ghost looked angry. Which was interesting, since I couldn’t see its face—but somehow it seemed to get bigger, like it was swelling up in fury.
“Because I’ll haunt you for the rest of your days if you don’t!” she said.
“Really?” I raised an eyebrow, “Ok. You do that. Is it cool if I go back to sleep now?”
“Why aren’t you taking this seriously?!”
“I’m probably dreaming. And, even if I’m not, I’m ok with you haunting me—you don’t seem that scary.”
The ghost sighed.
“Yeah, that’s what the others said.”
“I’ve been trying to get someone to do this for me for ages. But no one will help me.”
“What is it you want someone to do for you?”
“Find the man who killed me.”
A chill ran down my spine.
“Don’t the police usually look into that sort of thing?”
“They think I committed suicide, so an investigation was never made.”
“Oh. Couldn’t you haunt a cop?”
“I can only appear to some people. The afterworld is… complicated.”
“Right. Well, let’s not go into that at three in the morning.” I stared at the shimmering figure before me and shook my head. I was insane. “Alright,” I said, “I’ll help you.”
“If you’ll let me go back to sleep. You can come back tomorrow.”
“I can only come at night. As I say, the afterworld is complicated.”
“Right, well, tomorrow’s Friday, so I can stay up all night if I need to. Come back tomorrow night. I’ll be ready for you.”
This wasn’t strictly true. The next day I was exhausted the whole day, and convinced that the whole ghost thing had been a dream. So I went to bed pretty early that night—yes, on a Friday night. I have no social life.
Again, it was nightmares that woke me. And, again, the ghost stood beside my bed.
“Are these nightmares your doing?” I asked, feeling irritable since I was rather fond of sleep and hadn’t been getting nearly enough lately.
“I’m afraid they probably are,” the ghost said, “It’s an unfortunate side affect.”
“Listen, I haven’t slept properly in days. Couldn’t we do this tomorrow night?”
“Tomorrow night will be my last night I can come to you.”
“You have a lot of rules, don’t you?”
“I got it. It’s complicated.”
Today's Novel Idea Prompted by: "You are dealing with a bout of insomnia due to a reoccurring nightmare that started two days after the loss of your grandmother. Suddenly, you see a ghost who claims to be her spirit. Her spirit orders you to take care of something she wasn’t able to before she passed. If you do, she’ll leave you alone. If you don’t, she’ll haunt you forever." Courtesy of Writer's Digest.