Second Hand Ghost
Ed Wilson was a strange guy and lover of all things great and weird. Over the years, he had acquired a large collection of curiosities he would admire on frequent occasions. It was an unusual pastime, but one that he treasured. On a recent trip to a curio shop, he hit the mother lode. It was there that he acquired his most bizarre oddity.
The object in question was a shriveled human hand. It was brown, it was hairy and it was real. It had two-inch pointed fingernails that jutted from its fingertips. It was cut from a body at the wrist and appeared to have been sheared off. A shank of bone protruded from the cut end and was clotted with dried blood that looked quite old. The hand came in a carved box with a hinged lid.
Ed set the box on the coffee table and contemplated its future. He was roused from his contemplation by a knock on the door. It was his friend Joe, welcoming Ed home. Joe had a bag under his arm. He reached inside and pulled out two beers. One, he gave to Ed, the other he opened for himself. They sat down and opened the box.
“That is one nasty looking thingajig. What did you say it was again?” asked Joe, grimacing at the smell and at the looks of the thing.
“It’s the hand of a witch doctor, or rather, a sorcerer. I acquired it from a curio shop owner today,” replied Ed, smiling. His eyes had a faraway look as he recalled the moment with vivid clarity. “Apparently, it has powers,” he said.
“What kind of powers?” Joe asked, his fingers writing twin quotation marks in the air.
“The kind that’ll freak you out,” teased Ed with a laugh. “Seriously. It’s supposed to be very good at repelling things–warding them off, so to speak. It can be quite ruthless, I was told. Apparently, the witchdoctor was not a friendly sort and the hand was amputated to put him under some kind of control. They told me it’s dangerous. The man only gave it to me because he wanted to get rid of it.”
“I can see why. It’s ugly and it stinks!” said Joe.
“Yeah, I know. That’s one of the downsides. I don’t know if that’ll dissipate or what. It’s partly why I’ve been keeping it in a box. To be honest, though, I’ve kind of gotten used to the smell,” said Ed.
“What are you going to do with it? Keep it in your closet? That’s some pretty nasty potpourri!”
“Nah. I have a plan. And frankly, I don’t really care if the thing is a little on the evil side.”
“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”
“I plan to use this to get rid of my neighbor. The rude son of a bi—. He plays his music all night and seems to be deaf. He plays it so loud, you could hear it down the street. I’m tired of it and plan to put an end to it. The guy at the shop said this thing could work to ward off unwanted people.”
“Hmmm. That sounds great. I wonder if it’ll work. If so, I have some people of my own I wouldn’t mind warding off,” Joe chuckled, with gusto.
“And there’s no time like the present!” proclaimed Ed, grabbing the thing right out of the box. He hung it up on the outside of his apartment door. He positioned its index finger so it was pointed towards his neighbor’s apartment and mumbled a few words Joe couldn’t understand. Then back inside, Ed turned on the TV and they watched Columbo reruns.
Sure enough, a few hours later, the music started. It started out as a low thumping followed by an escalating wailing. Within 30 minutes, there was a full-on band in the living room, or so it sounded.
Ed looked at Joe knowingly. “Annoying, isn’t it?” He had to shout over the music just to be heard.
“Well if you like his music, I guess it wouldn’t be so bad. But day in and day out, I think I’d get annoyed,” remarked Joe.
After a couple of hours, nothing had changed. Joe figured the thing wasn’t working. “I haven’t heard or seen anything to indicate that your amulet is any good. Maybe you should just call the cops. That’s what everyone else does,” suggested Joe with pointed sarcasm.
“Nah. It’ll work. You’ll see. Give it time,” said Ed.
“Okay. Let me know how it goes. I gotta get home now,” said Joe, heading out the front door.
A Few Days Later
things turn out? Did you get rid of that pesky neighbor yet?” Joe asked Ed
when he met up at Starbucks one day.
“Hell yes, it worked. Don’t you read the paper?” asked Ed. “You know, the headlines that say “MAN STRANGLED, SEARCH FOR KILLER CONTINUES.” Ed pointed to the newspaper lying on the table.
“Yeah, I heard about that, but I didn’t put two and two together. Woah. When you said that thing was evil, I didn’t believe you. But now…I don’t know what to say.”
“Don’t say anything. Just be happy for me. However, now I have a problem.”
“I’ll explain later. When you coming back over?”
“I can come tonight, if you want.”
“Okay, be there at seven. That’s when the action starts.”
Later That Night
When Ed came home, the hand was sitting on the table. The index finger that was extended earlier was now curled under, towards the palm. The hand would no longer lie flat.
Someone knocked on the door. Then the door opened and Joe stepped in. The thing was on the table and Ed was staring at it. He didn’t look good.
“What’s wrong? You look like crap,” asked Joe with genuine concern.
“I-I-I don’t know,” began Ed. “You know about the neighbor, right? I told you about that. I was happy he was gone, but it bothers me.”
“Yeah, I can imagine. But you don’t think this thing actually did something, do you?” asked Joe.
“Hell, I don’t know. It was probably a coincidence. But weird things are happening now,” said Ed.
“Weird things? Like what?” asked Joe. The hairs on the back of his neck began to rise. He didn’t like where this was going.
“Oh, I don’t know. Strange noises. Weird feelings. I get this strange sensation that I’m choking. I can’t breathe. I really don’t want this thing around anymore,” said Ed.
“Why don’t you just throw it away?” ask Joe
“I tried that. Next day it was back out on the table again,” explained Ed.
Joe didn’t believe it. He figured Ed was just getting dramatic.
“Dude. I really tried,” said Ed.
“Well, why don’t I take it out and get rid of it? I’ll take it far, far away. It’ll never make it back,” offered Joe. So he did. He took it to the other side of town and threw it in a dumpster. Next morning, it was back, sitting on the table.
Ed really go strange then. He tried running it through the food processor; it wouldn’t chop. He tried putting it down the garbage disposal; it wouldn’t go down. He tried smashing it with heavy objects; it bounced right back. While he was doing all this, he kept choking. Each time he tried to get rid of it or destroy it, invisible fingers clamped down hard on his throat. With each attempt, the choking got worse. More severe. It got to the point he was going unconscious from asphyxiation.
One night, he was awakened from a deep sleep and the thing was sitting on the pillow next to him. It was curled up in a tight fist. Instantly, the choking sensation started. Ed couldn’t breathe. Those invisible fingers were wrapped tight around his throat again, squeezing and squeezing. Ed fought back. The squeezing didn’t stop. It wouldn’t stop. Eventually, Ed stopped fighting. His hands dropped to his side. Ed was dead.
A few minutes later, the hand began to rock back and forth on the pillow. It rolled off the pillow, off the bed to the floor, then away down the hall. It squeezed it’s way under the door and kept on rolling all the way out to the street.
Out near the street, a little boy played with his toys. He saw the thing rolling and rushed over to see what it was. When he caught up to it, he picked it up and placed it in the palm of his hand. Holding it up he said, “Hey Dad! I think I just found a hand.”
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