• Espadia, a city of hope, a town of dreams, a place for peace. Not anymore. Mystery dawns. Deaths happen now and then. Fear grips everyone, no one can escape this manifestation. All bravery is lost. This city is lost to the twilight. When one steps through the gates of Espadia, they leave with fear or scars of pain scratched upon their minds. None succeeded in escaping the walls of Espadia without memories of pain. It has become a prison of fear. The Cursed Kiss, the mark of contradiction, the mark of death, the mark that was imprinted upon the right cheek of those who died mysteriously of myocardial infarction.

    Chapter 5: Cursed Kiss

    Charlie Anderson, a successful man. The former president of the Lux Shipping Industry, the largest trading company in Espadia. However, ever since his wife died of the Cursed Kiss, he resigned and left his position for his capable son.
    He would make trips to the Hatchet and drown his sorrows with beer and booze.
    One evening, deciding to go home later, he made the biggest mistake, at the cost of his life.
    Slightly drunk, but still sober, he took a shortcut into Dove Backalley, the same place where Harvey Lloyd died, the first victim of the Cursed Kiss.

    Staring at the face of death.
    He saw two beautiful emerald-colored eyes boring into his. Her eyes filled with loneliness and a hint of desperation.
    The female ghost knelt down beside him and placed her hand on his face.
    A small smile spread across her face.
    There was no warmth on her hand.
    Charlie Anderson saw through her, she was slightly transparent.
    The word ‘ghost’ flashed in his mind.
    He screamed.
    However, no sound came out from his throat.
    He was stripped of his voice.
    Down on the cold pavement, his body was freezing.
    The pain in his chest tightened and he was gulping desperately for air.
    Panting heavily, he croaked weakly, “Stay… stay a…way…”

    The woman paid no heed to his pleas; her face drew closer to his.
    Charlie closed his eyes tight. He knew his end was near, but still praying that it was all a nightmare. Then, he felt a hot sensation on his face.
    The woman had planted a kiss on his right cheek and left a black kiss mark.
    The mark seared and the pain was unbearable.
    Burning wildly, Charlie Anderson felt fire on his face.
    At the same time, he felt life draining out from him.

    Seconds passed like years.
    His chest tightened in pain, he struggled helplessly. The pain from his chest was torturing. The burns on his cheek were just as bad.
    The woman stood up. The smile on her face had disappeared. She shook her head slightly and walked away, disappearing into thin air.

    Charlie Anderson panted on heavily.
    Trying to catch the last few gulps of air.
    No use, the sensation of tightness was growing stronger, it felt like his heart was being grabbed and squashed by a ghostly hand.

    His right fist clutched on his left chest, as if he was trying to free his heart from the deadly grip. When he felt no more pain from his cheeks anymore, his head dropped onto the pavement.
    His widened eyes stared blankly into the sky.
    The pupils had disappeared from his eye whites.
    A black kiss mark tattooed on his right cheek.
    Blood trickled down from his nostrils.
    He was dead.

    The next morning, the news reported the finding of another dead body.
    Gossips and rumors flew everywhere. Some were saying that this was some kind of plague; others however, believed that it was the work of the God. Most victims were successful men and women, but all were scheming people. All went through evil means to get what they wanted.

    Charlie Anderson was a suspect of money laundering, however no concrete evidence was held against him and he was off the hook.

    Miles away from the gossips, on the outskirts of Espadia, under the great oak tree, sat the female ghost.
    Her emerald-colored eyes stared blankly into space.
    She toyed with her long hair as she lazed about under the shade.
    “What beautiful weather,” Ella commented.
    Looking up in the sky, she let out a long sigh.

    Luck had not been with her, ever since she escaped from Arthur.

    Five weeks ago

    “You need ‘faces’…” Arthur said.
    “Faces…?” Ella echoed.
    “Yes, ‘faces’…”
    “You mean those with eyes, mouth and… you know…”
    “Yes, those”
    “How can I get them?”
    “It’s brutal, you tear them off from humans.”
    Arthur said nothing but stared at his hands.
    “You… You must be joking… I can’t literally tear faces off humans!” Ella shouted.
    “Of course you don’t silly girl. You grab what’s within!”
    “And what exactly is that?”
    “Their sanity within them. It’s all within their mind. Of course you need humans with strong motivation or courage, or those who are weak have little courage, let alone bravery. Those who are weak will die of a heart attack when their sanity is being tested. When you meet a strong one, they’ll confront you despite their fears…”

    Arthur stopped talking and looked at Ella. Her eyes were filled with interest. He continued, “…and when they do confront you, that is when you will have to rip their sanity away from them, leaving them completely insane. They will become an empty shell, though with a soul but insane. Their ability to remember will disappear and amnesia will overcome them.”

    Ella stood up and got ready to leave. She heard everything she wanted to know.
    “However… I won’t let you leave…” Arthur said slowly, as he rose to his feet. In his hands was the special pistol. He aimed at Ella.

    “Why can’t I?”
    “Because, you know too much, I can't let you reveal my secret to anyone... no... I can't take chances!” He shouted in reply. Tightening his grip on the pistol, he fired the gun.

    Ella felt a searing pain in her thigh right after she heard the gunshot. She fell to the ground. The bullet was no ordinary bullet; it obviously hurt ghosts.
    He stepped closer to Ella and aimed at her head.
    “Your ghostly ability will not help you!” Arthur roared.

    A loud gunshot echoed through the silent streets.
    No one heard it.

    …To be continued