Ghosts that come out during the day.
A soft breeze floated through me. My shadow did not appear next to the shadow of the tree on the ground.
“I’m bored,” Marty said. He kept flying through the trees, looking for any humans that might have been brave enough to venture into the daylight.
“What did you expect after last week?”
Marty made a noise that sounded like a snort. It was difficult to make out facial features when everyone was mostly see-through. “They should have let us kill them all.”
“They don’t understand.”
“They’ll learn fast.”
I sighed, something that wasn’t nearly as satisfying as it had been before I’d died. “Did you believe before you turned?”
Marty didn’t answer.
Humans were hard-wired to fear things they didn’t understand, so when the spirits of the dead had begun to walk—or float—they immediately fought back. Even I had been afraid to turn, and I’d figured out what was going on.
“They’ll eventually come out,” I said. “They can’t survive too long in dark holes.”
“I did,” Marty said.
“Not that long,” I pointed out.
I could tell he was about to argue with me, but an unnatural rustle sounded.
Marty froze in place. I held my breath—not that I had to breathe anymore—and we both waited until the noise came again.
“They’re here,” Marty said in a voice so low I barely registered it.
An unseen force tugged me gently toward the human. My essence could feel the living flesh of the bodies and the trapped spirits inside. They cried to me in a language that left only impressions in my mind. They longed to be freed, but the human side of them clung to their lives as if everything would end when death came.
Those of us already free were proof that things didn’t end, but humans couldn’t, or wouldn’t, accept that the end of death was merely the beginning of a much bigger universe.
“There are over a dozen,” Marty said.
Little shimmers in the air around us announced the arrival of more of the turned. Each one left a brush in my consciousness just as unique as a person’s face.
Turning worked better with more than one of us against one of them, but if the humans knew how many of us surrounded them they would surely bolt. We didn’t want that.
“We’ll go in with twenty-five,” I said. “We can’t spook them.”
The turned bobbed up and down in acceptance.
I took a moment to choose the twenty-five, then led them to the edge of the trees.
Most of us liked to hover in open spaces. Human bodies and minds had confined us for so long that even a forest felt cramped. I let the sensation of being trapped wash through me as we moved into the forest. Then I discarded it. Emotions were so much easier to manage without the body to trap them and make them bigger than they needed to be.
Marty moved beside me. By unspoken agreement, the two of them took the lead. They would find the leader of the humans and turn him.
A year ago Marty might have tried to reason with the humans, feeling that giving them a choice would somehow be better, but all it ever did was start a fight that the humans could never win but always put their lives on the line for. If they died before being turned, the spirits within would be traumatized and become violent, like the ghosts of old. I didn’t want that to happen today.
A buzzing had started in my mind when the humans had appeared, which got louder the closer we got.
“They’re not going to go easy.”
Marty was right. Each human was different, but they all had the same emotions. Most felt fear being out during the day, but these felt…excited.
“I think you’re right,” I said. “I think they have a plan.”
“Should we trip it?”
Marty sped up. “Gladly.”
I’d asked Marty what he’d been as a human, but it was so long ago that I’d forgotten. One thing I knew about him is that he never backed down from a challenge or danger. In life he must have been a fierce warrior. Now he always did what it took to turn the humans. Now he understood.
It didn’t take long for us to find them. A group of fourteen dirty, scrawny humans walked almost silently through the woods. Their fear drew me too them. Like the smell of cookies or grilling meat used to when I had been human.
Instead of skulking, this group stood upright. They held rifle-like weapons that I had never seen before in their hands. The leader’s eyes swept back and forth, ignoring the ground and concentrating on the air.
Marty and I didn’t try to hide. We flew in as fast as we could, straight toward the leader.
He didn’t panic. Instead he raised his weapon at Marty and fired.
Marty didn’t bother to dodge, no physical weapon could harm us. Instead of a bullet or fire erupting from the muzzle of the gun, a ray of light punched through the air and hit Marty in the chest.
He cried out in anger and what sounded like pain.
I took evasive action and the beam pointed at me by another human went wide, but hit something behind me.
“Hold them!” a human near the back yelled.
“Better hurry,” the leader said.
I turned to warn the others, but the light hit me.
I don’t remember how long it had been since I felt pain, but the sensation came back quickly. Nerves. Skin. Burning. The urge to run.
Only I couldn’t run.
“Can you trap them?” the leader asked.
I fought against the invisible wall of fire around me.
The other human looked up at me. “We’re about to find out.”