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How To Scare a 500-Year-Old Ghost -- FWG Flash Fiction for 2/27/2021

Caralyn Young provided another eerie prompt for this week's 300-word flash fiction piece. My response is but the opening of a story, though. I try to write a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end for these challenges, but this one took me to a distant place. A place that has bugged me for a long time. The woman in the pictures is a character that has been banging around in my head for years, but I can't for the life of me figure out how to tell her story. She keeps popping up where I least expect it...

How to Scare a Five Hundred-Year-Old Ghost

The Duke shimmered, fading in and out of existence.

“I’m hungry,” he said, a bit petulantly.

“You’re dead. You can’t be hungry.” Maddy didn’t even look up from her book. “And, regardless, you can’t eat, anyway.”

“I still feel it, though. I feel everything.” The Duke’s voice faded as he absent-mindedly fingered the lacey sleeve of his horribly out-of-date shirt. His velvet jacket and long, straight hair placed him firmly in the seventeenth century.

“You’re just bored. You need something to occupy your mind, and I have just the thing.” Maddy held up the book she had been leafing through. “I need you to find her.”

The book was open to a portrait of a stunningly beautiful woman, also dressed in lace and frills which matched the Duke’s time period.

The phantom gasped. “I know, er, knew her. She was a famous courtesan, who became the King’s mistress. Right before he died, under very mysterious circumstances, she sold the house he bought her and disappeared.”

“Until now.”

Maddy gestured for the Duke to look at her laptop screen. Instead of circling the desk though, he drifted straight through it, then through Maddy, and floated behind her chair.

She shivered. “I hate it when you do that. It feels so … creepy.”

“Welcome to my world, Missy.” He leaned over her shoulder to look at the screen without intersecting her. “Oh, now that’s creepy.”

A screenshot from some news footage of an opening night gala filled the screen. There in the center, emerging from a limo, was the same woman.

“Notice the unique birthmark on her cheek?” Maddy couldn’t keep the excitement from her voice.

The Duke’s voice, however, was full of dread as he stared at the pendant that hung from her neck in both pictures. “Oh, it’s her alright.”

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