A book cover, showing a man wearing a hoodie. The title is
Ashtar Deza
by Ashtar Deza
9 min read


  • Fiction


  • Ghost story
  • Horror
Content warnings: Graphic Depictions Of Violence, Self-harm, Death, Rape, Suicide Attempts, Alcohol Abuse/Alcoholism, Trauma

This is a ghost story. This means it’s a story about bitterness, regret and loss. A story about how sometimes our mistakes come back to haunt us.

This is chapter 4 out of 21. - I post a chapter per week.

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Previous Chapter


Now that John and Suzie had moved into professional life, summers at the lake became a thing of the past. However, John seemed unwilling to cut the final thread. Instead, he started inviting me to stay with them for a weekend each summer.

John said that the city never agreed with him, so they looked for something with that small town feel, but with actual nature. They ended up buying a huge old farmhouse in a small village and completely renovated it. It had all the small-town rustic charm but was still within a reasonable commute of the city.

Every summer, I’d stay at their place, have dinner with the both of them, and then get drunk with John in his man-cave in the basement. We’d play video games and talk about the old days.

I’d tell him about whoever I happened to be dating at the time and how the other guys from school were fairing. By then, I was making a decent living fixing cars. Life wasn’t great, but it was OK. Emotionally, those visits were always a mixed bag. I knew John was just being himself and that he genuinely enjoyed hanging out with me. Still, it always felt like getting my nose rubbed into my own failures. The big house, the fancy car, the good clothes… And Suzie. Goddamnit, Suzie.

She’d smile warmly at me across the dinner table. An old friend, someone she’d once been interested in, but who she now saw as just a relic from the past. I’d never stopped wanting her. She was my first big fuck-up, the one that paved the way for every fuck-up since then. Somehow, it felt like if I could fix that one mistake, it would magically undo the whole train of fucked-up events that had followed. I’d be living in this lovely house instead of the shitty rental apartment that I now occupied. I’d be driving that nice car instead of whatever wreck I managed to fix up after it had been totalled.

That year, I was visiting again, and everything happened as usual. The three of us had had dinner, then John and I went down to his man-cave and hung out. We played games for a while, but John excused himself to go to bed pretty early. He said the beers didn’t agree with him and joked that it must be old age catching up with him. I hugged him and retired to their little guest room.

I found myself tossing and turning, unable to sleep. After an hour, I gave up and decided to go downstairs. I’d plant my ass on their couch and watch some TV. They had all the streaming services I couldn’t afford, so I might as well make use of the opportunity. Maybe see if John kept any decent whiskey stashed away.

I hadn’t been there long when I heard footsteps on the stairs: Suzie. She was the picture of domestic comfiness: big pyjama bottoms, oversized T-shirt, and messy hair. She was fucking gorgeous.

She spotted me and sighed.

“Couldn’t sleep either?”

She walked over and plonked down next to me on the couch.

We talked for a long time, and somewhere in that talk she rested her head on my shoulder. An old, familiar gesture. One of safety and intimacy. It took me right back to that evening at the lake, the summer that had followed.

Her eyes closed, and I could tell by the evenness of her breathing that she had fallen asleep. I gently stroked her hair and kissed the top of her head. Very, very gently, I lifted her chin and planted a kiss on her lips.

She smiled sleepily at me, but then her eyes opened and focused on me. I could see the confusion on her face, followed by shock. Her eyes widened, and in her rush to distance herself, she ended up pushing me away. That gesture, her pushing me, needing to get away from me: it hit me exactly where it hurt most. It went straight into the heart of the big, bleeding wound at the core of my being. I felt so deeply and utterly rejected. By Suzie, the girl that had once been mine. The one that, if she had simply stayed with me, everything would have been better. Grief and rage mixed into a toxic brew inside me, and I grabbed her roughly.

There wasn’t much coherent thought going on inside me, except for one very simple thing. She was going to be mine, right then and there. I would take what was due to me. I yanked her shirt over her head, and she just froze. She didn’t fight or struggle. She just stared at me with these huge eyes. Petrified. I told myself this meant that, deep down, she wanted it too. That she’d simply say no if she really didn’t want this.

I grabbed her breasts, those beautiful gorgeous breasts, and started kneading them. Oh, how I had missed that feeling. They were much as I remembered them, yet fuller, more mature. They were perfect. But it wasn’t enough. I needed more. I needed to feel her completely. I started pulling on her pyjama bottoms, wanting, needing to be inside her. That shook her out of her paralysis, and she started trying to push me away, beating at me with her fists. At this point, I no longer cared. My world had shrunk to just one thing, the need to be inside her. Nothing else mattered anymore.

She managed to get her leg between us and pushed me off her with all her strength. She scrambled to her feet and tried to get away. I tried to grab her and managed to get hold of her pants, which took her off balance. She fell, and as she went down, she hit her head on the side of the coffee table. It caught her right at the temple, and all the strength abruptly went out of her. She fell down slack, a puppet whose strings had been cut.

I bent down to see if she was still breathing. At that moment, I heard John coming down the stairs. When he caught sight of Suzie, he ran the last few steps.

He crouched over her, panicking.

“What happened, man? Call an ambulance now!”

He checked her pulse, and only now did he realise that she was topless and that her pyjama bottoms were half off. I could see realisation dawning.

He turned around, his face filled with disbelief and despair.

“What did you do? I don’t understand… I don’t… I… Why aren’t you calling the ambulance? What did you do? Did… did you do this to her. Did you hurt her? Why? How? Why?”

He looked so completely and utterly lost and overwhelmed. It just inflamed my rage even more. The way he looked at me was filled with disbelief, sadness, and despair. It was more than I could handle, and it was like a dam broke inside me. The words just came out in a torrent.

“Why? Fucking why? Because I’m the piece of shit here. I’m the one that’s always trailing behind the two of you… your little pet to make yourselves look better! The one you laugh at when my back is turned!

It’s never fucking good enough, I’m never fucking good enough! Not for her, not for my Dad, and not for you! I’m fucking sick of being your hanger on, of feeding on your god-damn scraps! I’m sick to my fucking stomach!”

Somewhere in the middle of that, I had gone from shaking my fist in the air to grabbing John’s shirt, and as I got to the last sentence, every word was punctuated by my fist landing on his face. He was too taken aback to put up much of a fight, and blood splashed hot on my face as I kept hitting him. All these years of anger and resentment came spilling out. At him, at her, at the whole fucking world.

I found myself sitting on the floor, cradling his head in my lap. Both of us were covered in his blood. I kept stroking his hair, smoothing wet, bloody locks out of his face. His breath was raspy and uneven. As I sat there, it turned to gasps, and then it just… stopped. I screamed in anguish and rage.

John, my oldest friend, was dead. I’d killed him.

I needed to do something. Suzie was alive but unconscious, possibly in mortal danger as well. I had managed to do what I thought had been impossible. Years before, I had considered myself to be at rock bottom, and it had been a long and slow climb back up. Now, I had fallen back to that rock bottom, only to dynamite the floor and fall into the cavernous abyss of blackness below. I was… I was a murderer.

I felt sick to my stomach and crawled off to the bathroom to puke. When I got back, they were both where I left them. John, deadly still, and Suzie, taking shallow raspy breaths. I needed to call her an ambulance. I couldn’t let her die, too. But if the paramedics got here and found John like this… I’d be even more fucked.

I made up my mind and grabbed him under his armpits. Fuck, he was heavy! I dragged John into the back-seat of their car and found the keys in his pants pocket. Before driving off, I used his cell phone to call an ambulance for Suzie, then tossed the phone into their yard and drove off with John in the back.

My original plan was to drive the car into the water somewhere, make it look like an accident. There was no way anybody would buy that, given how he looked. Then I remembered. Back in our old town, the Hole.

As kids, we’d tell stories about the creatures living at the bottom of the Hole. In reality, it was just an old village well that had run dry. It was deep enough that even on a summer day, you couldn’t see the bottom. People had been dumping crap down there since forever. Nobody would think to look for him there.

Dragging a body is hard. I couldn’t drive all the way up to the well, so I had to drag and carry him the last bit. The night was dark enough that nobody saw me, and I managed to push him over the edge. He disappeared from sight, and I heard a muffled thud as his body landed at the bottom.

I ran away and didn’t look back. I drove 3 hours to a different city to ditch the car. I left it with the doors open and the keys in the ignition, then took a train back home.

Next Chapter

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