Ghost Story Contest Winner: Luanna Dutra’s ‘Ghost or Angel’

“Ghost or Angel” by Luanna Dutra

Ana’s eyes open, and she is stuck once again. Unable to speak or move, she is internally screaming but no words leave her mouth. A dark ominous room, cold cement floors, spider webs and no windows.

“An unfinished basement,” she thinks to herself. “I am here again.”

“Again?” you may think while reading this. Yes, again, she has had this dream five times before in the last week, except now it’s real and not a nightmare she is able to shake herself awake from. Her eyes anxiously drift around the room like a car over winter slush as she lays shivering on the floor.

From the corner of her eye, a figure appears and she is screeching on the inside. His thunderous gruff voice echoes throughout the room.

“You do understand why I have brought you here. I have been trying to reach you and you have ignored my messages. You’ve left me no choice.”

She squeezes her eyes shut, panicking. She is trying to recognize his voice and muscular figure and its almost familiar, but for some reason, she cannot seem to place it.

“Messages,” she thinks to herself. Maybe the dreams, maybe her phone texts, a tear rolls down her face as slow as snowflake reaching the ground.

His voice quiet like a whisper but hoarse as a crow, he speaks from across the room, “One day you’ll thank me.” A loud BOOM stretches around the room.

Abruptly, she wakes up sweaty and screaming in her bed to the sound of her alarm. She examines her bedroom realizing she is safe and noticing she is also late for her graveyard shift at the grocery store. It is 3 a.m., haunting hour some may say, she was supposed to be there at midnight.

She wipes her forehead, jumps in her car and zooms to work. As she arrives, she notices police cars outside her work, concerned she approaches one of her co-workers crying who just finished speaking to an officer.

“What happened?” she asks. Her coworker states they were held at gunpoint from 12:00 a.m. to exactly 2:59 a.m. when a tall bulky figure appeared and chased away the gunman.

With tears in her eyes, her coworker looks at her and says, “Ana, I am so glad you weren’t here. I know you would’ve tried to protect us and ended up hurt.”

They hug and start to walk away from each other when her coworker turns around and says one last thing, “He only said one sentence.” Ana looks at her, confused, wondering what it was the mysterious man said.

“No thanks necessary. Remember Cunningham,” they walk away.

Cunningham, her family name. A wind blows and the page turns on the calendar from October 31st to November 1st. The day her father died exactly a year ago. He had died a very abrupt death, no one knew he was going until he was gone.

She reminisces his last moments in the hospital bed, “I will forever protect you my love.” He stated, “Us Cunningham’s are always together.”

With tears in her eyes, she looks up to the sky. Was it sleep paralysis or was her father keeping her safe and still?

With a smile on her face, she looks down from the sky and notices a dark figure across the street. She blinks and it disappears. “I’ll never forget,” she states.

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