A book cover, showing a man wearing a hoodie. The title is
Ashtar Deza
by Ashtar Deza
5 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 6 out of 21. - I post a chapter per week.

Impatient? Buy the book to read the whole story right now!

Also available on my Ko-Fi

Previous Chapter


This was when it all really started to go to shit. I kept seeing John more and more. He never said anything. He just looked at me. Those eyes, so full of resentment and anger. It was unbearable.

This was when I found out that drinking would help me stop seeing him for a while, but while drinking on the job might have been fine back when I was stamping leather, now it started to affect my work.

Initially, the mistakes were small, and I got chewed out for them, but that was it. Then I fucked up badly. I’d changed the brake pads on a car and didn’t install them correctly. The customer nearly died as a result of it, and the shop got sued. Kind as my boss may be, that was the limit for him. I found myself out of a job.

After that, I took whatever work I could get, but the pickings were slim. Meanwhile, every time I went to bed, I was rolling the dice where I would wake up. I had started sleepwalking. Most nights I was fine, but every now and then, I would wake up somewhere unexpected. Once, I was on the edge of a canal, my feet balanced on the ledge as the water rushed below. Then, there was the time I found myself casually strolling down a highway, until a car horn startled me awake.

One morning, I woke up with a monster headache and feeling sick to my stomach. My thoughts were foggy, and as I stumbled towards my kitchen, I became aware of an intense stench. It became stronger the closer I got to the kitchen. My hand was half-way to the light-switch when my brain finally connected the dots and identified the smell. Gas.

My stove was running full blast, but the burners were off. If I had turned on the light, chances were they’d be scraping parts of me off the building across the street. I turned off the stove and very carefully opened all the windows. Then, I went out for a few hours.

That had been the closest call so far. Until today, that is. A fucking noose. Everything that happened before fell into place. I’d been rationalising it all as just coincidences, but I couldn’t explain this one away. Me seeing John, me ending up in these dangerous situations. I’d been trying to tell myself that it was just a coincidence. That I had been dreaming or that it was just drunken stupidity.

If I was totally honest with myself, I knew it wasn’t true. It hadn’t been true for a while. The gas should have been the point that made it clear, but even that I had tried to rationalise away. This was the point that I really couldn’t deny the facts anymore: this wasn’t me, it was John. He was trying to kill me, and had been for a while now.

I needed to do something. But what the fuck do you do about being haunted?

I had no idea where to start. In an old school horror movie, this was the point where the main character would go to the library or find some kindly occult bookshop owner who could help. That, or they’d call the fucking Ghostbusters.

None of that was really an option for me, so I turned to Google. I did a search for Paranormal Investigators, but what I found didn’t bode too well: I recognise a scam when I see one. The ones that did seem half-way legitimate, were more interested in documenting a haunting than in getting rid of it. I didn’t want camera’s set up in my apartment, I just wanted to be able to sleep safely again.

I kept seeing advice to talk to a priest. I wasn’t raised religious, but everybody in Shithole knew Father Perry. Nobody knew exactly who he had pissed off to get stuck out there. Maybe the old fool just liked it there, who knew. Nobody seriously expected him to be saving any souls.

I sat in the back of the dingy little church for Sunday mass, hoping to talk to him afterwards. He recognised me immediately and asked how my dad was doing. I told him my dad had died a few summers back. We hadn’t spoken for years at that point, and he ended up getting put into a pauper’s grave. Good riddance. I hadn’t gone to the funeral, and I’d never bothered to go see the grave.

He looked me in the eye. I’d always considered Father Perry to be a bit of a doddering old fool, but his gaze was surprisingly clear and sharp.

“What brings you here, my son? I’d love to think you’ve come looking for God, but I doubt that’s the case.”

” Father… I know this is going to sound crazy, but do you believe in ghosts?”

He paused for a moment, seeming to think it over.

“Officially? No. The church holds that all souls go to their rightful destination as soon as they depart this earthly realm. God may sometimes allow a soul to briefly manifest in visible form to teach or warn, but those occasions are rare. This usually happens with the spirits of saints.”

He leaned in close and dropped his voice a little.

“I have seen things when I was younger and heard stories. The devil is a trickster. I don’t believe that the dead can haunt us like you see in the movies, but I most certainly believe the devil can wear the faces of those we love, to torment us and tempt us into vice.”

I met his gaze.

“So, how do you get rid of that?”

“You won’t like the answer much. By letting Jesus into your heart, by living a virtuous life. By not heeding the devil. But honestly, my son. If you feel you’re being haunted, I would recommend seeing a psychologist. Your father was a hard man, and it would be perfectly natural for you to be seeing him. I also heard about John and what he did to that poor girl. There’s no shame in the stress becoming too much.”

This was getting me nowhere. I grabbed his arm.

“There must be something you can do? Like an exorcism? Or some kind of ritual?”

He gave me a weary look.

“This isn’t the movies. We don’t do rituals. We pray. Pagans do rituals, we trust in the Lord.”

I thanked him for his time and left. Apparently, I needed to find myself some pagans.

Next Chapter

Would you like to be notified when I post new content? Subscribe here.

Like this post? Comment or like on Mastodon!