“Hi. I’m Jon. I’m addicted to MistUHub.”
In a stuffy rec room, Jon tells his story: It’s been thirty days since he’s watched videos of people helping dead people find closure. His wife is proud and has reactivated his browser. Jack, his sponsor, has been his glue. People clap.
None of this is true.
The thing about soulmates is you can find them anywhere, especially in support groups. After meetings, Jon and Jack watch MistUHub in a handicapped stall. Mist-shots are their favorite. The moment a thankful ghost vanishes and says things like, “The light, it’s so beautiful…you did it…you saved me.” That’s when Jon shouts, “Yo, that’s what I’m talking about!” as he grabs and punches and hops. Jack is simple, likes to nod and whisper, “Yeah.” Jon’s wife is a hater. She’s installing hidden cameras.
Tonight, Jon calls her and tells her there’s a guest speaker which means he’ll be home later than usual, but he’ll stop by Ding Ho and get the tofu chow fun and pot stickers she likes so she doesn’t have to cook. Then they get in Jon’s jeep and head to the haunted playground. They’re ready to make their first video. It’s natural. After a while, viewers want to try the real thing. What better place to start than a park with lost little ghosts?
When they arrive, the ritual begins. In the car, they cut their palms with a switchblade. Jack mumbles ancient things. They shake hands – blood soulmates. Jack rummages through his backpack and brings out a plastic cup, spits in it. So does Jon. Spit bros for life. Jack unzips his pants. Jon says no.
Super pumped, they unload their gear – EMF meter, recording equipment, bible, etc. Hopefully, whoever they find won’t need or ask for too much.
They scour the small and dirty playground. Everything’s tagged up. Bouncy horses have missing eyes. They find nothing except swaying swings in the still air. Boring. Jon taps the broken fountain, kicks it a few times. Jack is on a horse. It makes no sense. How can two soulmates do everything right and still come up short? All the preparation, the secret planning, the Ding Hos, the matching Haley Joel tattoo, for nothing.
As they’re about to give up, something trippy happens. Thick fog creeps out of nowhere. Air turns chilly. Behind them, the sound of trickling water.
In misty light, a boy appears at the fountain. He’s on tiptoes, slurping, his raggedy shorts and shirt like hanging strips of toilet paper. He can’t be more than eight.
Yes! Jon does his grabby thing, tries not to hop. Go time.
“Hey little buddy,” Jon says, slowly approaching. “We’re here to help.”
The slurping stops. Swings too. The boy tilts his head. “Can you play with me?” Black slime oozes out of his mouth, down his chin. His eyes glow yellowish-green.
Demons – that’s some hardcore shit.
Jack books it.
The thing about soulmates is they are until they’re not.
JP Lor has stories in The Molotov Cocktail and Briefly Zine. Twitter: jplor82.