He could see the parties in his mind: a myriad of Harley Quinns, various inappropriate costumes, attempts to use cultural norms as costumes (a cardboard costume shaped like a Tinder profile), and more ridiculous attire still.
He had no desire for such.
Ghosts were something he believed in fully. Only he did not see them as the entities that others chose to see them. He saw them for what they were truly.
Over the years, he’d had more than one visitation from such entities.
He knew that night would be another that would somehow invite something into his home that he did not wish to be there. No preparation existed for such visits, save to listen rather than look. Long ago, he’d understood that wisdom, faith, and the ability to discern what was what in this mad world came down to the ears. The eyes deceived, at times seemingly willingly, while the ears took in the vibrations of reality; the actual tone of the world, without agenda. The mind, then, determined the agenda from the words. The eyes would lie.
So when one of those Things took a seat in his room, as they were wont, their appearance meant nothing to him at all.
The night drew on, into the late hours. He could imagine the parties winding down, the alcohol and others things having fully set in, and the people parting; some with others and some alone. Like him.
As the storm rolled in, he knew that the Visitor that night would be powerful. Whatever ghosts were, which he believed they were not the souls of humans somehow lost, they were elemental. The powerful ones brought with them changes in the very room, the atmosphere, sometimes to the point of changing weather patterns.
Remembering that the powerful ones seemed to enjoy wine, he went to the kitchen and retrieved a bottle. He opened the bottle, poured a glass, and then he put it beside the chair, and waited, quietly.
The chair was located in the corner of his bedroom. An old recliner. He never sat in it anymore. When he did, it was like standing too close to a very strong electrical current. It was an unnerving feeling, and one he avoided. Soon, it would make noise. Something would sit in it, something that he could not see at first. And, for whatever reason the Almighty had deemed fit, the Thing would want to sit and talk with him. This he didn’t understand.
The storm outside began to wail.
Lightning flashed, the wind howled, and thunder buffeted the air. He knew what would appear soon. After about an hour longer, as he knew it would, the old recliner began to squeak from the weight taken.
He drank his glass of wine, lit a candle, and then lit himself a cigarette. The night darkened. He had no desire to see the thing fully, knowing what he knew. It would be a lie.
Whispers filled the air. He knew them all to be lies. That was how the Thing played psychological warfare: it waltzed in as if it owned the place, intimidated, and then maintained the facade without deviation. To admit that he wasn’t terrified to his core, he knew, was to lie to himself. And lying to himself would do no good against the Thing that now sat in his chair. He took a sip of wine (not bad, considering the price, he thought) and waited for the Thing to speak. He hoped it would do so quickly.
When it did speak, he almost laughed at how predictable it was. The Thing spoke in several languages, all different translations of a single cliche about wine. He took a gamble with his response:
“But no Truth is in you, my new dark friend.”
He heard the thing laugh, whispers that surrounded him in the dark air. The lightning flashed. He knew what the Thing wanted: it wanted him to see it, to buy the lie of its form, thus he would be at a loss for words and thoughts entirely. But though he looked toward the Thing, hoping to fool it, he blurred his own vision, and forced himself to ignore the shouting from his mind, as it tried to make out that shape in clear view.
“The rumors were true,” the Thing in his chair said. “You’re not nearly so obtuse as so many of your silly kind.”
Oh yes, it wanted him to know, without shadow of doubt, that it was his Superior. He knew that, were he to pay attention to his eyes, he would miss the point entirely. Thus, he merely waited, sipping on his wine, puffing his cigarette, and he prayed. For many years, he’d disregarded such an act as purely wasted; what good could speaking such things to some God out there do the man in the midst of reality? Over the years of being visited by these Things, however, he had changed his thinking.
“Cigarette,” he asked the Thing.
“I would enjoy one, yes.”
He lit the cigarette, then held it in the air. “I’m not coming near you, so just go ahead and take it.”
The cigarette flew from his fingers and across the room, into the left hand of the Thing. Again, it laughed.
“I could, you know, simply waltz over there and take you.”
This time, he chuckled. It was one of the toughest things he’d ever done, because he was terrified. He knew it, the Thing in his chair knew it.
“You do know the rules.”
Again the Thing laughed, though for only a brief moment.
“Your kind,” it said, “are trouble makers personified.”
He watched as the smoke twirled around the Thing in the chair, in various patterns, mesmerizing him, all part of the trick. He looked away, and continued his prayers quietly.
“But,” it said, “I was told to stop by, for whatever reason. Though I find you somewhat unique, I would not use the word impressive, as I have heard about you. The fact is, I really don’t want to be here at all.”
He could hear the contempt. That was the Truth of the Thing right there: its contempt. He reckoned he could understand it. A human standing before a machine that is too obtuse to understand its own programming could see it as a thing of disgust. The Thing in the chair possessed a wisdom and elemental power over the world around it that he knew he could never understand as a human being. Thus disdain him it did.
“All right,” he said, “then what do you want?”
The Thing whispered into the air and his mind words of threat, of death, and pain, and all manner of horrors before it spoke.
“I want you dead,” it said. “But, as you noted, there are rules. And the insult to all injury is that I am bound to those damnable rules.”
The words flew out of his mouth without his permission: “I’m not seeing the point. Can you get to it?”
Thunder clapped outside, so loud that it vibrated all of his house. Lightning flashed and the Thing in the corner tried, again and again, to trick him into seeing the lie of its current form. He shut his eyes and drank more wine and waited.
“You cannot even look upon me, you disgusting thing,” it said to him. It almost yelled the words, but it would not give up the appearance of superiority in such a manner. “So instead of ending you, as I wish, I am forced to sit here in this disgusting chair of yours and talk to you, as though you were somehow on my level.”
“You sound rather upset,” he said.
The Thing stopped its near tirade and laughed again. He could hear genuine surprise in the sound.
“Your ego is astounding! You believe that you can contend with me. I love this! The rumors again proved to be true! Your existence is slight, but certainly not your own belief in such. I must amend my comment about there being nothing impressive about you.”
He knew better. These words of backhanded praise were, again, merely part of the trick. No good magician had but a single tactic when it came to fooling the audience. This was no amateur magician.
“Might I ask of you more wine,” the Thing asked.
He held the bottle up, and it flew from his hands, just like the cigarette. He heard the sound of the liquid pouring, then the bottle was hovering in front of his eyes. He reached up, took the bottle, and put it back on his nightstand, trying to ignore his senses, all of which told him to run from his home like smoke and oakum.
“Even now,” it said, “the machinations of your mind are whirring along, because you know what others do not. You are impressive, human! I am glad I stopped by after all.”
“Flattery is a thing for children,” he said. “But I do appreciate the kind words. I have none for you.”
This time, the weather did not change.
His bed began to slide from its location, toward the old recliner. He held onto his glass of wine and continued his prayers. He’d clearly crossed the line he’d intended to cross, and that always posed a risk. The bed stopped about ten feet from the old chair, and he could feel the Thing that sat in it as it tried to invade his very person. The air around him went cold, the energy being sucked away in the anger of the spirit in that chair.
“You will know my power,” it howled. The voice was made to sound like many to his ears, and though his mind and body fought valiantly against him to believe the lie, he resisted that lie, again and again.
“I have existed for eons, for millennia! I have conquered nations, dominions, and kingdoms! The Princes and Presidents, and Kings of this world have done my bidding! I have roamed the world, seeking those of your kind whom I may devour like food, like the dust that you are!”
The words again left his mouth without his approval: “And yet, you have learned nothing!”
One last time, the storm raged outside the walls of his small house. He finally lost his ability to resist, and saw the Thing in the chair. The sight nearly paralyzed him, for it surely possessed all of the power that it claimed. And yet he knew that this power could be resisted, unlike the tide, and that resistance had been set up eons before even the Thing in his chair had come to be, and such principles could not be ignored, not even by the most powerful of Dark Things.
Thus he held on, and fought against that Thing that wanted him to cower in fear. He knew that he could add yet another insult to the Thing’s grievous injuries: that of being terrified by such power and yet not yielding to it.
“Need I say the words,” he asked. He continued without answer, “The One that is in me…”
The Thing in the chair roared. His nightstand, a box fan on the floor, and other items in his room flew into the air, circling his bed. He could hear the wind as the items passed by his head. But, in a moment, the things fell, the sound deafening to his ears in the silence that followed.
The Thing was gone.
He got up and thanked God, then moved his bed back to where it belonged. As he righted all of the things set wrong in his bedroom, he hoped that, one day, these horrible visits would end. He really hated these Things.