Posted on: August 19, 2013

Anna has plenty of experience extracting ghosts, but possession is not her expertise. Suri, her most recent client, sits across from her at a tiny table in the bookstore cafe. Anna glances over her notes, knowing this case is out of her league, but unwilling to turn back.

“Okay,” she begins after clearing her throat. “Every November since you were fourteen, this ghost chooses to possess a man in your life, and claims that he - not the man, but the ghost - has spent lifetimes with you, that you belong to him. Eventually he disappears, but what prompts him to leave you alone?”

“A restraining order.”

Anna laughs appreciatively before she realizes that Suri isn’t joking.

“The first time I encountered the ghost, he possessed my father. Dad would get blitzed every once in awhile, but there was one time when he was saying all of these strange things to me, that I wasn’t his daughter, that he’s known me for centuries, that he’ll always find me wherever I am. My parents eventually split up and it only got weirder after that. I told Mom and she said I didn’t have to see him anymore if I didn’t want to, so I moved in with her and she got a restraining order because he was getting aggressive. When we called the police, you could see it in his eyes. Whatever was making him say that stuff was gone. His eyes were clear. I still remember how confused he looked when they handcuffed him.”

Suri scoots her chair closer to the table and leans forward to continue.

“It’s been a different guy every time. Someone would come along - a teacher, a co-worker, a complete stranger - and it would be the same script, past lives and all that crap, but I felt like I was getting to know him a little more each time. Sometimes, I could see him after he left one of their bodies, and he’d smile and wave goodbye as the police escorted the host away.”

“Has he ever missed a year?” Anna asks.

“Not one,” Suri whispers.

They share a few moments of silence, encased in the sound of the espresso machine and surrounding conversation.

“I guess we’ve got to wait for him to show up. In the meantime,” Anna says as she closes her notebook, “I need to do research and talk to some folks. You’ve got my number. Call me the minute you think he’s manifested. I don’t care if it’s a squirrel on your windowsill. Just call.”

“Okay. I will.”

They both stand, shake hands, and Anna walks away with a knot in her stomach.


“Yes, this is Anna. Who’s this?” she asks, holding the phone between her ear and shoulder, putting the groceries on the kitchen counter.

“Suri is mine. You got that?” the man barked from the other end of the line. “You won’t get rid of me so easy!”

Anna feels every hair on her body stand on end as she leans back against the pantry door.

As calm as she can muster, “Hey, man. No one’s trying to get rid of anybody. Where’s Suri? Is she okay?”

Anna can almost hear the sneer of his lips as he says, “1780 Rutherford Avenue. Come see for yourself.”


It’s 4:15 pm when Anna pulls up in front of the abandoned house. A few of the windows are broken and an overturned grocery cart is in the doorway. She closes her eyes, asks her dead mother for courage, and gets out of the car. Fearing the worst, she walks up the driveway and pulls the cart out of the way so she can get inside the house, which is empty except for trash and drug paraphernalia. She is drawn to the light pouring from the room down the hall, the door left ajar.

“Suri,” Anna calls cautiously.

She pushes the door open with her hand and spots the graffiti on the wall, some haphazard squares made with black spray paint and a message next to the window.

“ 4:33 you’ll see...”

Anna pulls out her phone to check the time: 4:30. She runs up to the window and looks out into the backyard. A man grins at her from beneath a tree and next to him Suri stands on a stool, gagged with her wrists tied behind her and a noose around her neck.

“Oh God, please,” Anna breathes.

The moment he lifts his foot to kick over the stool, there is a gunshot and he falls to the ground. Two police officers run toward Suri who screams through her snot-soaked gag, locking eyes with Anna through the window. Footsteps echo in the house behind her as backup searches the premises, following the tip Anna called in to the 911 dispatcher before speeding over to Rutherford, but the familiar chill of another presence brushes against the left side of her neck.

Suri’s voice is a distant cry, full of warning and remorse, “Anna! That’s him! Oh Anna, I’m so sorry!”

Anna takes in a breath as she turns to face the apparition. His appearance seems thick enough to touch, and he stands almost a foot taller than her, making him all the more menacing as he tilts his head to the side and smiles down at her.

“It’s dangerous to play games without knowing the rules, Anna.”

The sound of his voice both repels and lures every blood vessel in her body, desire and disgust making her heart pound in her throat. Anna realizes that Suri left out a very important detail about this ghost: he keeps haunting her because, deep down, she wants him to come back.

“What is your name?” Anna whispers, keeping her hands from balling up into fists as she waits for the one piece of information he is obligated to give her when demanded.


In a blink, he is gone as officers pour into the room with guns drawn.

Photograph by: Emily Blincoe
Written by: Natasha Akery

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