Charlie heard the sound of an engine, so he looked around and saw he was in the front passenger seat of a car he didn’t recognize. He couldn’t see out the windows, but the engine was roaring, and the car was shaking as if it feared that it couldn’t maintain its current speed.
“Hello Charlie.” He looked to his left and saw Mike, smiling sloppily. Charlie remembered Mike looked like that on the night he had died, before he remembered that he hadn’t been with Mike that night.
Hey — hey buddy. You awake? Charlie handed the phone to Mike, said somebody wanted to speak to him.
“Dead people can’t talk on the phone, Charlie.” He took the notebook from Charlie, began writing in it with his golden pen. Mike did not look drunk any more, but the car kept speeding down the road.
No he’s alive, but his skin’s cold, not responding, we gotta call an ambulance. Charlie asked Mike if he was going to turn into a Ginger Man.
“No such thing.” Mike looked like Charlie remembered him from high school, carefree and open. “I mean the Ginger Man was a thing, but a story thing. Gotta be careful with stories, man. You take them too seriously, they become more real than what’s really real.”
The car continued humming down the road. OK, lift him gently. Charlie thanked Mike for the advice, said they should stop now. Mike shook his head. “You know I gotta keep going, right?” Charlie said he understood, even though that wasn’t in his heart. “But you’d better go, buddy.” Mike had that returned-from-college look again. Charlie said OK, opened the door of the car, then turned again to Mike, asked if he was going to be all right. Mike laughed. “You know the story.” Charlie nodded, stepped out of the car, and his world turned black again.