Alex Smith had been dead for 5 years. It was a rather sad fact, but true none the less...At least he could guarantee it was true.
To be honest, Alex hadn't been sure how the situation had escalated so quickly. One minute he was holding a lighter, the next he was in an agonizing amount of pain, the house burning down with him.
The fire department hadn't been quick enough to save him. 10 minutes earlier and maybe he'd still be alive, but what would the point be? He'd be disfigured beyond recognition and he probably wouldn't have been able to move on his own.
What would life be if he couldn't do the things he loved anymore?
The house of course, had been completely remodeled and put up for sale. No one ever noticed the quiet man watching things change around him as he sulked in a corner, trying to come to terms with his own demise. People couldn't see ghosts after all.
When the house was finally done and people began nosing about, that was when Smith's patience ended.
How dare they intrude! This was his house! No one else's!
A particular quality spirits had, which Smith soon found out, was that depending on their death they could manipulate certain aspects.
Alex Smith had burnt alive. While he looked normal in a good mood, he turned into a charred monstrosity when he was angry.
The heating in the room turned unbearable and people would keep away from the house, feeling his tremendous rage and sweating their fear.
It pleased him, filling their hearts with dread. This is what he should do as a spirit, haunt the place where he perished before his time.
Eventually people stopped coming and Alex was alone once more. The emptiness and silence became his worst enemies as he had nothing else to do other than muse on his death and the things he'd never be able to do. Things he hadn't gotten to experience due to his premature death.
It was a sad existence and it made him lethargic...Well, as lethargic as a ghost could be....But this too came to an end.
It was at the start of his 6th year of joining the afterlife when two young men began looking around the house.
At first Smith thought he was imagining things until he realized that the two men were real. From what he could gather, the two had just finished Uni and were looking for a house. Roommates, how pleasant.
One was a brunet with messy hair reminiscent of an annoying pop-star, the other was a slightly darker haired brunet who had shorter cut hair and was certainly taller than the other. Almost as tall as he had been.
Smith had considered scaring them off like he'd done before but, the idea of being left alone again wasn't ideal in any way.
So, with a sigh of annoyance, he decided to keep these two around for now.
As luck would have it, the two found the house perfect and bought it in the end. With the moving truck came many interesting items, including some recording equipment.
After the moving truck left, the two began to unpack.
Alex had watched them quietly, listening to their conversation since he didn't have much else to do. He figured out that the shorter one's name was Chris Trott and that the taller one was Ross Hornby, he also felt a little bit of dismay when the taller one brought in more than he realized he did.
A large Labrador dog was staring up at Smith with wide eyes. It was a ghost like him, he could faintly make out tire tracks on it's side and he knew the dog could probably see smoke rising from his "skin".
It seemed like Ross had brought an old tennis ball with him which he'd once used to play with the dog.
It became attached to it and was able to fallow it's master by linking itself to the ball.
"Great, just what I needed..." Alex muttered under his breath. "A ghost mutt to slobber ectoplasma all over me..."
The dog kept staring up at him with those wide eyes, before they became ever so slightly sad. The dog whined and whimpered, looking almost as if it was pleading Smith to do something.
"What?" He raised an eyebrow at it. In life he'd never been much of a fan of dogs. They drooled everywhere and chewed up your stuff so who could judge him for not liked them?
The dog kept whimpering, moving forward and nudging his leg ever so slightly. It slowly occurred to Smith what it wanted.
He couldn't blame it either, it had probably been a long time since anyone had petted it.
"Fine..." He gave it a small pat, smiling just a little bit as it began to wag it's tail. "Eh, you're not so bad after all..."
He sat down with the dog and carried on petting it, noticing a collar with a name tag on it. He read the name and carried on petting the large Labrador.
"Guess it's you and me and those twats over there, uh Buster?"
Trott had never been the superstitious type. He'd always believed in facts rather than fiction, his friend however tended to let himself be easily lulled into believing things of the paranormal.
Trott never really understood why Ross kept that ratty and smelly tennis ball around. There was no such thing as luck charms and even if there were, why would his friends' be an old ball that smelled like something shat it out?
Then again, he wasn't really keen on finding out.
They'd been living at their new house for at least five weeks now and during their stay Ross had been a little uneasy.
"I'm serious Trott, it feels like we're being watched!" He'd told him one morning while he was preparing breakfast.
"Don't be silly, there's no one here other than us. Besides it's probably the weird heating getting to you. I really should check with someone to fix it..."
Sometimes the heating changed abruptly in the house. That was the only flaw Trott could find. It felt warmer and a little stuffy sometimes but at least it wasn't unbearable. They could live through it!
"That's the thing, I only feel watched when the room gets warmer...It's creepy." Ross muttered.
He hadn't talked about it for a while now but, Trott could see he was still a bit paranoid. Sometimes he'd be clutching that stinky ball of his as well, as if it could defend him from something.
Chris just found it ridiculous to be honest.
In the first few weeks, Alex had noticed how both of his "roommates" felt. He realized that maybe Ross was a little bit more sensitive to his presence than Trott, it gave him a little bit of hope that maybe he'd get to talk to someone but...It was all for naught. He was a ghost, a spirit. They wouldn't be able to see or hear him.
All they could feel was his heat and even then they blamed it on a faulty heating system.
It was a lonesome life, that of a ghost's...But he had Buster with him at least.
He sat next to the dog who was laying down by the table where Ross had left the tennis ball. The two where arguing while playing video games. Trials was it?
He patted the dog, giving it a reassuring smile which soon vanished when he noticed how sad it looked.
Buster was just staring up at the tennis ball with what Smith could assume was longing in his eyes.
"You miss playing catch uh?" He asked the dog calmly.
Buster stared up at him with the saddest eyes Smith had ever seen. It made his "heart" ache ever so slightly.
If only he could play fetch with him...Well he might as well try.
"Seriously Ross, you really think you can win against me by bringing that old thing over?" Trott laughed.
"Hey don't bad mouth that ball, I have pretty good memories with it. Plus it gave me luck in every test I took so why wouldn't it give me some more to beat old Trotty in a game of Trials?" Ross bit his lip as he concentrated on the screen.
He could almost taste victory, Trott had failed a few times so he was ahead. He just needed to get over this stupid obstacle to finish the track!
Nothing could distract him now, not even the weird tapping coming from the coffee table....Ross paused, raising an eyebrow. Weird tapping coming from the coffee table?
He looked from the corner of his eyes before freezing ever so slightly. He missed Trott finishing the track as well.
"Beat you again! See, no stupid charm can give you enough luck to--Ross?" Trott blinked, waving a hand in front of his friend's face.
Ross said nothing, instead he pointed at the coffee table, face becoming paler and his frame being rocked with fearful shivers.
Trott raised an eyebrow before taking a look. His mouth opened ever so slightly in an "O" shape as he saw what the other was so scared over. The tennis ball was hopping on it's own.
"What the fuck...?" Trott muttered quietly.
They watched the ball quietly before it suddenly stopped midair and was thrown across the room. Ross dropped his controller and let out a choked squeak.
The two were left staring as the ball went from once side of the living room, to the other. Repeatedly.
This wasn't real...It couldn't be.
"Nice one Ross, what did you do to get that to work?" Trott asked.
"....What are you talking about?" Ross asked, avoiding taking his eyes away from the ball.
"This is a nice prank, I know you said you felt watched but come on you shouldn't go to so much effort to prank me just because I don't believe in superstitions..." Trott said.
"Trott I'm not doing this!"
The two began to argue once more, up until the ball passed by a large mirror they hadn't quite decided where to put yet.
The image of a large Labrador silenced the two as it passed by the reflective surface, holding the floating ball in it's mouth.
As soon as it left the sight of the mirror the ball carried on floating to another direction.
Ross felt bile rise in his throat. He recognized that dog, how could he not? He'd been his friend for years.
Buster had been a Christmas present when he was still a child. He grew up with the old boy and had been devastated when he'd been run over while the two were playing fetch.
He'd kept Buster's favorite tennis ball as a way to remember him. It had always given him a lot of luck when he'd needed it.
"T-this isn't...This c-can't..." Trott stuttered ever so slightly, even he didn't have an explanation for this now.
"Buster..." Ross muttered under his breath before he realized something. The ball was going from one side of the room and being brought back by the ghost dog. So...Who was throwing it?
Gathering his nerve, Ross walked over to the mirror. He let out a deep breath before turning it around, both he and Trott stared for a long time at the auburn haired male staring at the mirror surface with a look of surprise on his face, Buster sitting by his side with the ball still in his mouth.
It took the two living men three seconds before they fainted. After all, it wasn't every day that you discovered you had extra roommates in your house.