The sound of thunder woke young business tycoon Max Baren just moments after he managed to fall asleep. Frustrated by insomnia, he threw back the covers and sat on the side of the large four poster bed. Another sleepless night would no doubt lead to another unproductive day. That simply would not do. He had to get some rest.
Springing from bed, the self-proclaimed jock got down on the floor and began doing push-ups. He couldn’t remember if exercising before bed was a good or a bad thing, he just knew he had to do something. He decided it couldn’t hurt.
Another clap of thunder seemed to land just feet from his home. Max sprang from the floor to look out the window. Just as he did, a flash of lightning lit his back yard fully. That’s when it saw it. It was not human. Of that he was certain. It looked like a misty cloud shaped in the image of a woman. He recognized it immediately as the form of his former girlfriend, Alexandra Mosely.
Moving back from the window, Max felt his heart beating rapidly inside of his chest. It couldn’t be her of course. Alexandra was dead. He was hallucinating from lack of sleep. That was all it was.
Moving slowly forward, he peered out the window once more. The thing was still there, only this time it looked directly at him when lightning flashed yet again. Its eyes, if you could call them that, were full of hate.
“She’s dead,” he whispered to himself. “Alexandra is dead. There is nothing there. It is just your imagination because you can’t sleep.” The words sounded as hollow as they were. Max did not believe them.
Turning, he moved into the kitchen area to get a closer look. He bent over to avoid being seen through the window seat windows which were not obstructed with curtains or shades. Stealthily, he moved to the back door.
Bending down, he pushed the dog’s door open slightly to get an outside view. He saw nothing at all so he stood and finally looked out the window door. There was nothing there.
Feeling stupid, Max turned toward the refrigerator. He’d try some warm milk. If that didn’t work, he would take the stupid sleeping pills his doctor had given him.
Lightning continued to flash brightly as the milk heated but Max saw no more ghostly apparitions in his back yard. He chastised himself for being stupid. After all, he did not believe in ghosts.
Pouring the milk into a glass, Max made his way back to the bedroom. Lightning temporarily ceased to flash so the room was dark. He wished he’d brought a flashlight with him.
Sitting on the side of the bed, Max downed the milk and then lay prone on the bed in hopes of it working. Unfortunately, sleep still eluded him. Finally, he reached for the pills in the table by the bed. Taking two, he downed them without water.
Within minutes, Max began to feel drowsy. That was in spite of the fact that a second round of the strange storm was beginning to brew. It once again sent lightning and thunder his direction, but no rain followed. Putting a pillow over his head, the young hunk tried to ignore it all.
Suddenly, Max thought he felt something touch his arm. He recoiled in panic but refused to lift the pillow to take a look. He was truly frightened. But then he realized the window had blown open in the wind, causing the curtains to blow in his direction. Half asleep, he rose to pull the window shut.
That’s when he saw it again – the specter. It floated in fronted of him, its feet not touching the ground. The ghost’s face was twisted in an ugly grimace. Max recognized it immediately. It was the same face, Alexandra made when he killed her.
Falling backward, Max hit his head hard on the bed post. His neck snapped forward and he landed on the floor. His neck was broken. He could not move despite the fact his girlfriend’s ghost floated six inches above him.
Max closed his eyes, trying to block out the awful vision. Sadly, he could not. It would not let him. His eyes kept popping open no matter how hard he tried to close them. Around him, lightning and thunder continued to brew something evil. It was revenge.
A bolt of lightning hit a nearby transformer, causing sparks to fly in all directions. One flew inside the open window, taking root in the flimsy silk curtain Max had sought to secure just moments before. It caught fire quickly, sending dancing flames in all directions. Still Max could not move.
Alexandra grinned at her former lover. She had him exactly where she wanted him. He was going to die.
A next door neighbor caught sight of the flames shortly after they began to lick at the Baren home. She dialed 911 immediately.
“Todd, wake up,” Millie Lansing demanded of her aging husband. “The house next door is on fire. It might send sparks this way,” she warned. We should spray water to help prevent it.”
Todd Lansing grumbled but got out of bed and put on his robe and slippers. Within seconds, he was outside with a water hose, spraying his roof in hopes of avoiding the fire that was clearly consuming the home next to theirs.
The fire trucks roared up quickly and began their job. One crew worked to put out the fire while another sought to prevent it from spreading. Before long, the fire was put out.
“Chief, there’s a man inside. He’s dead though,” one fireman reported after checking the interior. “I’m not sure the fire got him, though. He had the strangest look on his face. It was one of sheer fright.”
As the last lightning lit the sky and rain finally began to fall, Millie Lansing thought she saw something in the tree line above the Baren house. She strained her eyes to get a closer look.
The figure turned slightly, as if to give the old woman what she wanted. It was then than Millie recognized the beautiful face of Chantel Spaulding, Max Baren’s former girlfriend. Instantly, she understood everything.
Weeks ago, Max told Millie that Chantel had left him. He pretended hurt that his girlfriend had decided to return home to Oklahoma. Something told the old woman his story didn’t ring true. She knew how much Chantel loved Max. She would not have left him; at least not willingly.
The misty spirit smiled at Millie before flapping its wings and floating away. It was as Millie expected. Max’s terrible temper got the best of him and it had cost Chantel her life.
“She’s dead,” Millie mumbled, tears beginning to burn in the corner of her eyes.
“There was no one else in the house, Mrs. Lansing,” the fire chief assured her gently.
“I know, but she’s dead nonetheless. He killed her,” Millie said, nodding her head firmly.
“Killed who, Mam?” The fireman looked confused.
“Chantel. She used to live there. She disappeared suddenly a few weeks ago. It never made sense, her going the way he said she did. He killed her. I’m certain of it.”
“Hey, Chief,” another fireman shouted, waving the older man over near the rose garden. “You aren’t going to believe what we just found.”
Moving purposefully in that direction, the chief somehow was not surprised at all. Poking out of the scorched ground was a graceful hand. He was certain it belonged to the woman Millie Lansing spoke about.
It was at that moment, the police arrived on the scene too. The fire chief waved over the officers to show them the grisly discovery.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d think she got even somehow,” the chief whispered. “At least now she can rest in peace. It appears her murderer is also dead.”