The Ghost Toucher, by Gerald Rice
Description: In a world where ghosts are an accepted reality, Stout Roost, reality star and host of the Network’s The Ghost Toucher reality series has vanished. But Israel, the spiritual detective they hire, doesn’t exactly have a plan to find him. Kelly Greene, a customer service rep, is tapped to assist the detective, but he quickly realizes that as far as unconventional methods go, Israel’s are insane. He informs Kelly there is an afterworld and it was already populated by pesky ghosts. They also hate humans because they eventually become ghosts and are seeking a ‘clean’ way to exterminate us all. The two learn finding Stout is the least of their worries as they are pursued through metro-Detroit by obsessive compulsive wannabe warriors, mutants who worship an insane deity, weapons from the other side and a mysterious, perpetually pregnant, augmentative woman with a gender complex.
The Ghost Toucher – Excerpt
She stomped on the gas and raced around a green Taurus in front of them. Kelly looked out the back window. A single dark cloud had formed and was rapidly approaching.
“If you can go any faster, now’s the time!”
She didn’t say anything, but cut around a car crossing through the intersection. A piece of the cloud shot out like a missile and hit the street right in front of them. Anna swerved into the left turn lane to get around it.
“Are we fine? Are we fine?” she shouted.
Kelly patted himself down. He was.
“Taze, you all right? Taze?”
The taller man had slumped to the side in the front seat, his forehead against the window. He was making choking sounds and twitching as if he were in the throes of a seizure. Kelly grabbed his shoulder and Taze’s hand latched onto his.
“Machín,” he rasped. Kelly tried to pull his hand away but he was caught in an iron grip.
“Taze, what the hell is wrong with you?”
“Hey, stop that,” Anna shouted. “Stop it!”
“Machín!” Taze leaned over to Anna and let out a ear-piercing screech.
And then he was gone.
The cloud was gone too.
Actually, all the traffic on the road was gone.
“Anna, what happened to Taze?”
Israel turned around and looked at Kelly. Israel-Israel; not Anna-Israel. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
“How do I stop this thing?”
“The brake. The-the pedal on the floor in the middle.”
Israel pressed down on it and the car spun to the side and bounced like a balloon in slow-motion. The car eventually rested upside down.
“Let’s get out of here before that thing comes back.”
“Yeah,” Anna said.
“Anna? That you?”
“What happened to Israel?”
“What do you mean?”
Kelly kicked out the passenger side window and crawled out. The engine was still running and Anna rolled hers down first before getting out.
“I’m probably going to have to pay for that,” she said, looking at the busted rear window.
“Hey, your eyes.” Anna’s eyes had returned to normal. “What the hell is going on here?” Kelly looked around. A fog had descended as far as he could see and there was nobody around, not even cars.
“I wish I KNEWWWW—”
The street folded ninety degrees and Anna fell over the edge. Kelly caught her arm and saw. The sky was bent at the same angle. The car was gone. She was perpendicular to him, but gravity had changed to vertical instead of horizontal where she was. He lost his grip and she caught onto the street at his feet.
Kelly peaked over the edge and saw debris falling, literally, down the street to be swallowed up in an approaching wall of fog. Wind whipped in all directions as he bent over and held his hand out to her.
“Take my hand!” he shouted.
“You’re nuts!” she screamed.
“No! My hand!”
“Don’t you see that?”
“What?” Kelly turned and saw a towering cylindrical mass that had not been there before, looming overhead. The street behind him had collapsed away, making a thinning bridge of asphalt where he stood. He couldn’t see the top or bottom as it came out of the wall of fog about two hundred yards away. It bent in the middle as if made of rubber until it was about thirty feet from Kelly.
It was made of flesh. Arms and legs and torsos all pressed together. The tower was ragged in spots where the limbs that didn’t bend had broken, jagged bone protruding from gray wounds. It had several rows of windows, each at least five feet wide and there was a giant white thing inside passing by the windows on the top floor.
No, that was its eye. The tower had an eye.
Several stories down a crack appeared across the face at least twenty feet in length. The tower opened its mouth and roared at them, a huge mattress-looking tongue slowly lapping across the strip of street and coming Kelly’s way. He looked at it and saw it was made of torsos, but with thick, long quills sticking out of it.
“Come with me!” Anna grabbed him by the pant leg and yanked.
“No! Don’t pull me—I’ll fall!”
“That thing is going to eat you!”
Kelly looked over the edge again and saw the fog was a few feet beneath her. Where the hell had Israel gone? Anna’s toes dipped into the fog.
“It doesn’t really make a difference.” Israel clapped Kelly on the shoulder. Kelly jumped and turned to see him smiling.
“Where did you come from? What happened to you?”
“I’m in and out. Picking out a good spot for us on the other side.”
“Other side? What are you talking about?”
“We made it. I didn’t think that thing in Downeck could do it, but it did. And just in the nick of time too. That patrol was onto us.”
“So what? Are we dead?”
“No. We can’t die.”
“What do you mean we can’t die?” The flesh tower’s tongue was about twenty feet away.
“Do you know what a psychopomp is? Never mind—I’ll explain more in a minute. In the meantime, someone’s not coming with us.” Israel peaked over the edge.
“How you doing down there, Anna?”
“I’m okay. Are you coming?”
“No. You go on ahead.”
“Here, I’ll help you.” Israel walked over to where her hands were and stepped on her fingers.
“Ow! What are you doing?”
“You need to go back, Anna. You’re not dead.”
“What do you mean, she’s not dead,” Kelly said. “I’m not either.”
“In. A. Minute.” Israel stomped on her fingers with each word. Anna lost her grip and scrabbled to grab on. She fell a couple inches into the fog and bounced, rising into the air.
“You’ll be fine,” Israel said. “I moved you someplace safe.”
“What about you? What’s going to happen to you?”
“We have to figure another way back!”
“How will I find you?”
“Don’t worry about it. We’ll figure that out later!”
And then she was a dot in the sky, too far away for them to hear.
“I don’t think I can jump down there. Will we bounce?”
“No, we won’t bounce. We’ll go aaaaaaall the way down.”
The tongue was five feet away. Kelly moved over a few feet and stopped. The street had crumbled and fell away on that side.
“I don’t want that thing eating me,” Israel said. He didn’t seem worried, though. “Hurry up, already. I want to get going.”
“I don’t know what to do. I just—”
Israel picked Kelly up by the arm. He floated into the air and then Israel threw him at the flesh tower’s mattress-tongue. Kelly spun around and watched as Israel waved and stepped off the edge. Kelly screamed as he clawed and kicked at the air until he stuck onto the tongue and was sucked into the tower’s mouth.
Everything went dark. And stinky.
The Ghost Toucher, by Gerald Rice