written by Gage
Illustration by KKC Bauder
I think I was about five, when I first heard the voices upstairs in the barn. Yep, I was five. All the locals said my house was where thousands of Union soldiers died in the Civil War many years before. It was a battleground where a massacre was held. Our lawn is even named 'Leewise Massacre House'. I had ignored all these comments, because I couldn't do anything. If my parents wanted to live here, I was living here, too.
I had never felt or seen anything in my house, but when I went out to the barn. . . after stepping past all the ATVs and animals and supplies, at the edge of the steps I heard voices. Voices of old men, wheezing and coughing, drinking their whisky, and playing cards. And those depictions of ghosts, they are wrong. They are not see-through or transparent or float.
They are like you and me; skin, bone, human. Although it is creepy that they have bullet wounds in their heads and blood leaking from gunshot holes… and they talk. Every night I would sit down with them, play cards and have conversations.
My parents never believed me.
Whenever I would say, "Who's up in the barn?"
They would just glance at each other and declare, "No one."
The soldiers are my friends. They tell me I see things others can't. Do Ma and Pop see the dirt mounds and gravestones and clear-as-day mourners? Of course not. That's impossible.
One night, as I was playing cards, Soldier Jarf spoke to me.
"You want to see my gun?" he inquired.
"Under my grave," he joked.
Soldiers. Where do they come up with this stuff?
One day, I stepped outside and saw General Dervart on his knees crying. A dead boy was in his hands.
"Who is he?" I asked.
"My son," choked General.
"Why is he here?" I said.
The General sobbed.
"Don't you see us here? We're all here."
Mourning and crying and graves were all around. My house transformed into a hospital. The hurt were healed and the dead were buried.
"I want to see my home, not the hospital," I said. "I miss Ma and Pop."
"How dare you!" yelled General.
"Have you no respect?" I ran.
He pulled out a gun.
I knew he made me one of them. I was a ghost. Now I spend my days haunting and playing cards.