Hovering Body, Part 3

An update about the two ethereal bodies floating in my house, dear strangers.

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)

The first body’s face, looking upward, could be seen through the hole I’d cut in the hallway floor. The second body, looking downward, was mostly hidden directly overhead in the ceiling. Only its ghostly nose protruded.

I Sawzalled a new hole, cutting a wide oval and revealing the second face. It was a woman this time. Like the man below, she was bald and lacked both eyebrows and eyelashes, and even if they hadn’t shared their strange hairlessness, they resembled each other enough to be relatives.

Once the plaster dust settled and my eyes felt clear, I stood on my stepladder, craned back so I could look straight up, and examined the woman’s face.

Her expression was neutral. She stared without blinking and seemed not to notice me, as if she were waiting for something else and wouldn’t react until she saw it. I realized I was blocking her view of the man’s face below and so I climbed down, moved the ladder, and let the two mysterious faces see each other at last.

I stood aside and waited, standing as close to the floor and ceiling holes as possible without obstructing the way. Since the man’s head was recessed a foot below me in the floor, only part of his face was visible to me, but I saw that he immediately stopped mouthing his silent words, and that his expression grew pregnant with emotion. Was it amazement, fear, or hope? His opportunity had come to tell the woman something critical—a secret he had kept and needed to convey.

The woman’s face remained neutral as she stared at the man below. Eventually he mouthed new words, and while I couldn’t interpret his speech from my vantage point, he seemed to talk with urgency and passion. I was glad to have brought the two of them together in their afterlives, and I looked up at the woman, anticipating an expression of peace, epiphany, or marvelous relief from whatever the man was telling her.

I have never seen a more harrowing scream. The woman’s eyes widened and seemed to vibrate. Her nose crinkled at the bridge, and her entire head lengthened as her mouth stretched open. She bared her upper and lower teeth, all the way to her canines and gums. She made no sound. Her mouth was cavernous and grim, like the drain of an old metal slop sink, and her scream had the indrawn intensity of suction.

I felt my own breath being drawn from my body, and I forced myself to look down at the man’s face below. He had stopped mouthing words. His expression was aghast, as if he’d expected a different reaction from the woman he’d addressed. I was reminded of violent offenders apologizing in court, with carefully phrased remorse, and finding not forgiveness but the bloodthirsty, outraged fury of the victims.

I glanced up at the woman’s face in time to see her disappear in a bright scarlet flare. The light warmed my face and left behind a stench of burned insulation. It was glorious to see—a flash of power she had saved and finally unleashed.

I stood above the hole in the floor and looked down. The man’s stricken face stared a while longer, and then he flickered out and vanished like a pitiful illusion.

Look Beyond,
William Rook

(Read Part 1 and Part 2)





Look Beyond,
William Rook

Hovering Body, Part 2

An update about the hovering body in my hallway, dear strangers.

(Read Part 1)

As I described in my earlier report, the body is nonphysical—I was able to reach my hand through his torso—and is pressed face-first against the ceiling, the way an ordinary body would lie facedown on a floor. Because he’s so close to the ceiling, I was initially unable to see his features.

My solution was to Sawzall a hole in the ceiling, cutting a circle around his head, so I could see him through the floor of the hallway above. This was messier and more challenging than expected, but after I cut a crude hole in the ceiling, I walked upstairs, coated in plaster dust, and finished the hole from the upper hallway.

It was psychologically difficult using a Sawzall in close proximity to what appeared to be a live human head. I was relieved to see that throughout the process, the man’s expression remained unperturbed. The sawdust and plaster drifted through his head to the hallway below, and I was left with a rough but sufficient portal.

The hovering man’s head was then visible eighteen inches below in the hole, separated from me by the joisted gap between the house’s two levels. The gap was dark. A flashlight would have been useless because he was non-corporeal; light would have simply passed through his head. Fortunately, he was faintly self-illuminating, and his pinkish-gray face glowed up at me with excellent clarity.

His eyes were open. They didn’t blink. He was bald and lacked stubble, eyebrows, and eyelashes, which gave his head and face an embryonic smoothness I found both repulsive and fascinatingly generic. I wondered why his hair had vanished in the afterlife.

As I had earlier suspected, he was silently mouthing words, and because he didn’t move his eyes left or right, his mysterious soliloquy seemed directed at me with unsettling intensity.

I have little experience with lip-reading, but by emptying my mind and allowing instinct to guide me, I started to interpret some of what he said. After many minutes of watching, I recognized the pattern of his mouth’s movements and determined that he was speaking a single repeated sentence:

“I never told you what happened that night.”

I sat away from the hole, with my back against the wall, and pondered his words. To whom was he attempting to speak? What had happened on the night in question? Such answers were impossible to guess, but I imagined the man speaking to his lover, or his child, about an incident in darkness—a night of so much meaning in the story of their lives that he’d persisted after death in order to express it.

As I daydreamed various scenarios—a fatal accident, murder, betrayal, maybe a missed opportunity of necessary love—I began to absentmindedly stare upward. My eyes zeroed in on a strange protrusion in the ceiling.

I stood for a closer look and discovered it was a nose and upper lip. They were the same pinkish gray as the man’s spectral form below, and I realized I was looking at parts of a second hovering body, nearly all of which was hidden in the space between the ceiling and the crawl-space attic above…

Look Beyond,
William Rook

(Read Part 1 and Part 3)

Hovering Body

A disembodied man is hovering in my brownstone’s second-floor hallway.

The hallway is narrow and long, with a grimy plaster ceiling and a hardwood floor covered by a lichenous carpet runner. Two wall sconces provide a modicum of light in the hall, but the man’s form floats in the gap between the sconces and is somewhat difficult to see.

I’m mostly certain he’s a man. He floats face-up against the ceiling, straight as a plank. From below I can see the back of his head, which is bald, but none of his distinguishing characteristics. He is nude, as many ghosts are—an essential, lingering self without ornament or clothes.

He’s motionless. He isn’t translucent but his form is an otherworldly pinkish gray, like neon light submerged in dirty slush.

I determined he isn’t a solid body by pushing a broom handle through his torso, and then by climbing onto a step-ladder and reaching my hand through his back. My palm met no resistance until it touched the ceiling. He felt neither warm nor cold. I perceived no electric charge.

He doesn’t make sound, and yet although I can’t directly see his face, I’m convinced (for reasons I can’t explain) that he’s constantly mouthing words. Since I have no way of turning his ethereal body, I’ve resorted to other approaches.

I slid a mirror between his head and the ceiling and tried to view his face obliquely, but all I could see was his right eye. The eye was open. I may have imagined it, but I think his pupil dilated when the mirror slid in front of it and he suddenly found himself staring at his own reflection for the first time since his death.

Viewed through the mirror, his jaw did appear to be moving, but his ghostly mouth was pressed an inch or two into the ceiling and was therefore completely hidden.

I’m going to saw around his head, through the ceiling, and open a viewing portal through which to see his face from the third-floor hallway above. I’ll report back once I find my Sawzall.

Look Beyond,
William Rook

(Read Part 2 and Part 3)

The Girl with the Polkadot Arm


Thanks for forwarding William’s answer to my “fingers sprouting from my arm” situation. I loved his idea of chopping the fingers off and healing the wounds with skinwort, especially b/c I had a Tinder date coming up on Friday night, and a dozen extra pinkies probably doesn’t make the average guy’s fetish list. The chopping fix was nice and quick.

But yeah no. Even with St. Madelia’s spirits to dull the pain, the fingers had roots. Like deep-set bones and tendons and stuff. Pruning shears wouldn’t have worked. I’d have really had to gouge the finger-roots out.

So I grabbed a vial out of a biology starter kit I ordered last week (coincidence or omg fate!?), transmogrified the specimens with a hybrid curse and my own special medley of herbs and spices, and wha-la: I had a Petri dish full of necrotizing amoebas.

I mixed the amoebas into Vaseline and smeared them onto the extra fingers. They devoured the pinkies down to the roots in less than six hours. THEN I used skinwort to heal the wounds. I’ll have a dozen oval scars but it’s actually kind of neat: I’m the girl with the polkadot arm.

Please tell William thanks for his suggestion, though, and I’d love to borrow that book he offered to loan me.



P.S. That’s sad his love life is sad. Do get him up and running on email. I’ll cheer him up Amanda-style.

Read the full exchange here.

Finger Cure

Dear Amanda,

Good work healing your severed pinky with skinwort. I’m afraid I have no explanation for why the rest of your arm started growing fingers.

There’s one account in LOST CURES, REFOUND AND REIMAGINED (very entertaining book; I’ll loan it to you) of a German man who died in 1911 after drinking skinwort tea. The following spring, a “flesh tree” sprouted from his grave.

I’ll keep researching possible causes of your finger problem so we can all avoid similar trouble in the future.

The best option I can suggest is to chop the extra fingers at the root and heal those spots with more carefully applied skinwort. I recommend a jigger of St. Madelia’s spirits before you get started. It’ll dim the pain without making you groggy.

I wish you lived closer so I could help in person, Amanda. Please let me know how it goes.

Look Beyond,
William Rook

Read the full exchange here.

Fingers Sprouting from Arm

Hi, Dennis!

I accidentally chopped off my pinky finger. You should have seen the blood. It was like some crazy cartoon the way it spurted.

I thought I was cutting a chunk of grief-root. I know grief-root doesn’t look anything like a pinky finger, but I was making more solstice broth, and you know how the vapors get if you add too much almond after the wishbone, and I spaced out from the fumes and whacked my finger off without feeling it at all. I even smeared a picture on the wall with blood before I came to my senses. It looks like a cave painting, like a bison or something. See attached pic.

Anyway it’s not the finger I’m emailing about. It’s the FINGERS. I used the skinwort treatment and my pinky’s reattached great and mostly healed, but now I’m growing extra fingers all the way up my arm. There’re fourteen of them now, ranging from stubby tips to whole pinkies. I can actually wiggle a few. I didn’t even think this was possible with skinwort and have no idea what went weird.

Will you please forward this to William Rook and get his advice? I know he’s good with this kind of stuff but he still doesn’t have email (?!?).



P.S. Does William date? Hook me up. Kidding not kidding. I don’t even know what he looks like, he probably has fingers growing out of his forehead.


Hi, Amanda.

Holy smoke. Fingers growing out of your arm: only you, lady. But I’m glad the original severed pinky healed up well.

I forwarded your message to William via the usual private channel. I’ll work on getting him online because this kind of relay obviously isn’t ideal when someone has an emergency. Regardless, he’ll answer quickly, and you’re right—he’s good with this kind of stuff. Hang in there.

Thanks for the pic of your blood drawing. It does look like a cave-painting bison, or a very primal Rudolph.


P.S. I wouldn’t ask William about his love life at this point. He had a rough year. That’s a very long story you’ll hear in the coming months when he’s ready to tell it.

Read the full exchange here.