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Ghost Music

The Haunting of Sky Hollow

By Antoinette McCormick

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For Nadia and Aidan Loveland, inheriting Sky Hollow estate from an uncle they never knew seems like a dream come true. They head to the house with high hopes, despite claims that the music from one of their late uncle's sculptures can open an otherworldly portal, but their first stay might be their last.

A lakeside estate in rural Vermont

A thing need not be human to have a life of its own. Trees, rocks, base metals: all begin their time on earth as specific objects, but are transformed when they encounter an outside force, an energy of singular and passionate intent. The proud oak falls beneath a blade to become lumber for a stately home. The rock, pulverized, becomes concrete for that home's foundation. Base metal, ripped from its bed in the earth's cold womb and forged in flame, may transform into something even more startling beneath an artist's skillful hands: slotted sheets and hollow tubes that sing songs to their creator, long after he is dead.

While beauty may be the result, the act of creation is still an aggressive, intrusive thing; its inherent violence no less than that of a rape or murder.
The creation of a ghost is no different...

The pale woman gazed into the night, an absolute darkness without moon or stars. Night stared back, defiant, silent as the sudden hush before a storm. The woman let it press against the sunken opals of her eyes and flood the frozen rictus of her mouth. She'd lain too long in darkness, wrapped in cerements of time and memory, both bitter to her as the silt that blanketed her limestone bed and the seasonal detritus that drifted down to lodge in the hollows of her bones.

Time had forgotten her. She could sense it in the movement of the current, feel it in the silence that surrounded her. The dead silence that was a sound, itself.

Though time had forgotten her, she who had not forgotten time, knew the deeper truth it had tried to conceal with its long slow passage: she was no longer bound. Circadian rhythms and cyclical variations could no longer hold her, no longer imprison her in so sordid and ignominious a resting place.

No longer memory or content to remain, she rose, piercing the fragile membrane between her world and theirs as easily as a swimmer surfacing for a breath of air. Long had lain the nights she’d waited, while the seeds of her revenge took root, flourished. It was time to go, time to reclaim what a moment—a moment with him—had stolen.

Gathering speed, flesh and form, she rose.

Those he left behind, those utterly unworthy to receive his legacy, those responsible would know her and despair. With blackness behind her eyes and in the guttered lantern of her heart—

She rose.

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About Antoinette McCormick

Three-time Futhark Award winner Antoinette McCormick loves all things that go 'bump' in the night (unless they're raiding the garbage bin in the woodshed). Her works have appeared in numerous online and print publications, including Halfway Down the Stairs, Mad Scientist Journal, and The Vermont Literary Review. She lives in Vermont.