The Last Handful of Clover

Chapter 1.31: Could It Be You?

The Last Handful of Clover — Book One: The Hereafter

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June 6, 12:20 pm

The violence in the playground happened so fast that Billy was frozen.

He saw Mattie descend from the swing and walk to where the two boys were playing with the truck in the sand. The speed at which Mattie could possess the bigger of the two boys astounded him. He had seen her possess before, perhaps a half-dozen times. But he had never seen her do it that quickly. She was just there one moment, then she reached down, touched the back of the boy’s hand…

And then she was gone.

The violence only lasted a matter of seconds. The mothers of the boys were there almost instantly, pulling them apart, and the violent jerk on the boy’s arm appeared to be enough to dislodge Mattie from the boy. She stood there, arm raised, and with a feral grin.

The scene in the playground was instantaneously one of chaos. The mothers were screaming, the boys were crying, and a half dozen other adults were converging on the scene from several directions. The children all stared numbly, dumbfounded by what was unfolding around them.

Billy finally broke his trance and was preparing to rush into the playground—although he had no idea what he would do when he got there. He had tried to intervene with Mattie before, and it had always ended badly. But then he realized one voice in the hubbub of the playground was shouting something odd. Something very different from the rest…

“You’re DEAD!” he heard a man’s voice scream. Then again, “You’re DEAD!”

The voice froze him in his tracks, and his eyes focused on the source. The man who was shouting was standing in the middle of the playground, right in front of Mattie. Billy hadn’t even seen him arrive, but he stood now with his feet apart, just inches from Mattie, and he was reaching a trembling hand out toward her.

The man is a ghost, he thought. The man is dead.

He could always tell when he saw another of their kind, but this one needed no psychic sense on his part. The bearded man’s gray sweatshirt was covered in blood, and from where he stood, he could even see the blood soaking the back of the sweatshirt as if he’d been lying in a pool of it just moments before. Billy had seen thousands of ghosts in his life. If he walked around the park, he could probably pick out a dozen more. Salt Lake City was crawling with the dead, who had been accumulating since even before he himself joined their ranks. But this was a newly minted ghost. Billy could tell from the shocked look on his face and the way he shimmered like a new penny. The River of Souls still clung to him, as it did with all the newly dead. He had clearly been among them for only days, if not hours.

But the thing that left Billy so shocked was that this newly minted ghost could actually see Mattie! And even as he watched, the bearded man reached out to touch her, and looked shocked when his hand passed through her shoulder as if she was empty air.

This isn’t possible, he thought. A new ghost can’t see other ghosts for months, usually years. It had taken him more than a decade to acquire the First Gift. And yet here was a new arrival, who clearly had already attained it. He’d never seen such a thing, and it gave him chills. There was a sense of power clinging to this new ghost that shook Billy like he had not been shaken in a very long time.

Billy whispered aloud, “Who are you?”

He was surprised she had stayed so long, but now Mattie was running. In an instant, she was across the park, the new ghost’s eyes following her as she departed.

The man screamed again, as he sank to his knees, and then whimpered, one more time, “You’re dead…”

And Billy whispered, “What are you?”

He was torn for a moment, because his natural inclination was to run after Mattie, as he had run after her for years. But this new ghost’s presence made no sense. He simply shouldn’t be. His very existence shattered everything Billy believed he knew about his world.

Unsure why he was doing it, Billy faded back into the grove of trees. He felt Mattie disappearing now, heading quickly toward downtown. He could always find her later. But now, nothing seemed more important than this man. This terrified, broken new ghost, that still knelt in the sand.

The playground had substantially emptied as the parents pulled their children away. Billy could still see the splattered blood in the sand. In the midst of it, the man was muttering now, his face buried in his hands.

Could it be you? Billy wondered.

The man stumbled to his feet and lurched from the sandbox. He left no tracks in the sand.

Billy watched. And then he followed.

The Last Handful of Clover is a supernatural thriller by Wess Mongo Jolley. Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying this story, please consider supporting the author on Patreon.

For more information (including maps of the story’s world and a contact form) visit the author’s website.

To read previous chapters of this book, go to the Table of Contents page.

If you’re interested in listening to the book, rather than reading it, the audiobook is available at the Patreon link above, and also as a podcast on iTunes, Stitcher, Anchor, and all other podcast platforms. Visit the podcast page for more details.

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Copyright 2021, Wess Mongo Jolley. All rights reserved.

Wess Mongo Jolley

Wess Mongo Jolley is Utah native, who is now an expatriate American novelist, editor, poet and poetry promoter, living in Montreal. He is Founder and Director of the Performance Poetry Preservation Project, and is most well known for hosting the IndieFeed Performance Poetry Channel podcast for more than ten years. As a poet, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Off The Coast, PANK, The New Verse News, and Danse Macabre; and in collections such as the Write Bloody Press book The Good Things About America. He enjoys hearing from readers, and can be contacted through his website, at https://wessmongojolley.com. If you are enjoying this story, please drop me a line, and consider supporting my work as a novelist at http://patreon.com/wessmongojolley. More than half of the the trilogy's over 200 chapters are already available there for subscribers.

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