Patrick Callaghan stood on the stage, soaking up the adulation. He flashed his expensive smile at the assembled social climbers. Judging by their couture cocktail dresses and tuxedos, they could afford to donate to his campaign. With their dollars in his coffers, he could really take the fight to McCarney.
His gaze swept the hall as the thunderous applause continued. His gaze fell on a woman near the back of the room. Black hair tumbled around her pale shoulders, and a slender hand held an unlit cigarillo. Melanie. Patrick gulped. He’d recognise that figure anywhere. The last time he saw it, he was eight years younger and watching her climb out of his Renault. She walked away into the rain, and never looked back.
The evening’s host stepped forward, taking the microphone. He launched into a rapturous speech about Patrick’s incandescent rise through the political ranks, prompting yet more applause. Patrick tuned the speaker out, stealing glances between smiles for the crowd.
Moments later, his campaign manager swept him off the stage, and he lost sight of his Ghost of Christmas Past.
“Yes, darling, I think it went well. Simpkins couldn’t get me on a flight tonight so I’ll be home tomorrow afternoon … Yes, I know it’s a pain … Of course, darling. I love you too. I’ll call you from the airport.”
Patrick hung up and scribbled himself a note to get Simpkins to send his wife some flowers. Maybe forget-me-nots, if they were in season.
Patrick whirled around. Melanie leaned against the door. Patrick gulped, and wondered how long she’d been there.
“Hello, Melanie. What are you doing here?”
“I’m in town for the horticulture convention. I saw you were speaking and thought I’d drop by. It was a wonderful speech,” she replied. She smiled that gorgeous smile of hers, and his tense nerves relaxed.
“I’m glad you liked it. Are you in town long?”
“Only until tomorrow.”
“How do you like the place?”
“I like it well enough, but it’s a bit of a drag. I don’t know what to do this evening. Where’s a girl to go for some fun?” Melanie’s green eyes glittered as a wicked grin flashed across her face.
“If it’s fun you’re after…” Patrick grinned back. Why not? I’ve been working hard these past few months, I deserve a reward.
“We always did have such fun, didn’t we?” asked Melanie.
“My hotel isn’t far.” Patrick smiled.
He called his assistant. Simpkins arrived with the car, and drove the couple to Patrick’s hotel. He heard himself telling Simpkins that Melanie was an old friend and had some useful information about McCarney. Melanie smiled and said nothing.
She still said nothing when he opened the door to his hotel suite. A knot of unease tightened in Patrick’s stomach. Hey, maybe I’m just nervous. It’s been a while since that intern. He leaned down to kiss her, hoping to break the tension. Melanie ducked out of the way, placing one finger on his lips.
“Why don’t you sit yourself down on the bed? I’ve got a surprise for you,” she said.
“What kind of surprise?”
Melanie slipped out of her jacket and dropped it on the floor. She looked up at him, her intent blazing in those stormy eyes. The knot in his stomach loosened and Patrick perched on edge of the bed.
“How have you been, P-Bear?” asked Melanie. She peeled off her elbow-length gloves and tossed them aside.
“How’s Felicia? You must have been married…what…fifteen years now?”
Patrick frowned at the mention of his wife, but Melanie’s gyrating distracted him.
“I always liked Felicia. She was always so kind to me. Of course, she just thought I was the gardener. She never suspected a thing, did she?” asked Melanie.
“No, I don’t think she did.”
“Poor Felicia. I wonder what she’d say if she found out about Ethan.”
“Who’s Ethan?” asked Patrick.
Melanie stopped dancing and glared at him. A rattle in the closet fought for his attention, but he couldn’t stop staring at Melanie.
“We….have a son?” he asked. Visions of tabloid headlines and judgmental news reports flashed through his mind.
“Yes. He’s seven now. Looks a lot like his daddy. Same chin and eyes.”
The rattling grew louder and Patrick glanced at the closet. The door bulged as though something behind it wanted to get out.
“Why are you here? Why are you doing this? Do you want child maintenance?” asked Patrick.
“Oh no, I have more than enough money of my own. And I don’t even want to cause a scandal for you – knowing you, you’d just sweet talk your way out of it, just like you sweet talked your way into my heart,” replied Melanie. “Did you know that I loved you?”
“But…we were just having fun…and….”
“Did you think I didn’t know about your secretary? Or the woman from the next office? It was bad enough sharing you with your wife, but with them as well?”
“I suffered in silence until I started seeing you on the news. It’s taken me months to get an invite to one of your functions,” said Melanie. Her green eyes glowed, and the air around her crackled with invisible electricity.
The closet door burst open and a skeleton lunged into the room. It took a swipe at Patrick, its bones whistling through the air just inches from his face. A second skeleton burst free, followed by a third.
“What are you doing?” screamed Patrick. He scrambled away from the bed. Two more skeletons emerged from the closet. The first skeleton advanced across the room and sunk its fingers into his hair.
“You made your bed…time for you to die in it.”
The skeletons fell upon Patrick, hauling him onto the bed. Melanie’s cackling was the last thing he heard as the skeletons ripped him apart.
Enjoy this story?
Sign up below to get a free copy of Harbingers, my collection of weird and dark short stories.
Or click here to read Skeletons, another of my bony tales.
Learn about skeletons in folklore.
Or listen to the song Calling All Skeletons by Alkaline Trio here, which inspired this story.
Ghosts & goddesses
Would you like more folklore and weird tales? Add your email to get them once a month, and receive this free copy of my short story collection too!