Archived: Apprentice by Cate Formica

Blaine propped his feet up on the coffee table and stuck a fork in his microwave dinner. It was Friday night, which usually consisted of TV, a few beers, and falling asleep on the couch in his underwear. The night progressed like many others.

In the wee hours of the morning, Blaine woke to the TV still on and agreed with himself to saunter off to bed. He flicked the TV off, killed the last light that was on, and hobbled to his bedroom. He lay down in bed and closed his eyes.

“Uhm, hi…”

“Jesus! Can’t you people ever knock?” Blaine bellowed in the darkness.

“Sorry bro, they said you were the guy to come to.”

“You couldn’t have popped in when I was fully awake?” he sat up.

“Nah man, I like literally just died.”

Eyes adjusting to the darkness, Blaine eyed the apparition standing in his closet. He was an young man, dressed like a wanna-be gangster, silver chain still glittering. He was floating about two feet off the ground, appearing in and out of mist and solid form. Blood had wept from the bullet hole in his left temple.

“Please, you have to help me.”

“That’s what they all say, kiddo,” Blaine shrugged his shoulders. “Despite what they say, getting revenge for you isn’t that quick nor is it very easy, and it’s not going to come very cheap.”

“Yo, the dude that shot me, man, he’s the type to hurt my girlfriend next. You can’t let that happen, she didn’t do nothing to deserve that. She can’t die for me, man.”

Since his teenage years, Blaine had been dealing with dead people. Sometimes they required his services for revenge, sometimes for pride. But the cases Blaine got the most invested in were the cases that involved loved ones. Those appealed to the soft spot he had, however much was left of it.

When he was fourteen, Blaine’s older sister Twyla had been murdered. Her husband had gone off the deep end, hiring someone to kill her and make it look like an accident. He walked away innocent with a pretty penny from her life insurance policy. The circumstances around the case seemed clear, but Blaine knew deep down inside that there must have been foul play.

Blaine joked with himself that the first time his sister appeared to him from the other side he became a sociopath.

Blaine joked with himself that the first time his sister appeared to him from the other side he became a sociopath. After she diffused away in mist form, he had a mental breakdown. But she reappeared, each time bringing with her another detail about the murder. As he investigated her hints, Blaine put together the pieces. Her husband truly had murdered her. His parents eventually gave up trying to humor him, exasperated that he claimed he could see her ghost.The records had been sealed for almost 5 years, and the authorities dismissed any attempts Blaine made to open the case back up. Twyla wasn’t the vindictive type, but Blaine was. So he did what any good brother would do for his ghost-walking sister: he killed him. With that straightened out, his sister was released to rest in peace. And so began a 20 year career spent enacting revenge for ghosts.

These days, he felt a little old to be serial killing for a good cause. He shook away the memory of his sister and addressed the phantom in the closet.

“If you want me to help you, I need to know everything you can gather on the guy who killed you. Find out what you can, figure out where you can get the money, and come back to me tomorrow.”

“Thanks, bro,” the ghost dissolved from the room in an instant, leaving Blaine alone in the darkness.

Blaine lay his head back down and sighed. He wondered when he could officially retire, or if he actually ever would. He knew of a woman in Asia who did something similar; news of her dealings would come in with the ghosts from the other side. Her scope of expertise didn’t extend into America, so the business on this continent came to him. He did enjoy the work though, especially when those who appeared to him said their goodbyes and finally laid to rest. It was satisfying, plus they never bothered him after that.


The sound of the doorbell roused Blaine from his sleep. He rubbed his eyes and staggered to the door, dismissing that it might be the chain-dangling hoodlum. Daylight would be too polite and convenient for a ghost. He peered through the peephole which revealed a girl on the other side.

“Look miss, I don’t do girl scout cookies.”

“Are you Blaine Bishop?” her eyes twinkled.

“Yeah, what can I do for you?”

“The ghosts told me how to find you, sir.”

“Ghosts? I’m sorry I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

She wrinkled a freckled nose at him. “Mr. Bishop, you don’t have to pretend. I know who you are.”

“And who are you?”

“I’m Maggie, and they say I can do what you can do.” Sincerity radiated from her.

Maybe I will retire after all, Blaine thought to himself.





Cate Formica is a mom, wife, and returning student at Aims. She returned to help better the future of her family. She enjoys writing, painting, and photography, all hobbies she has explored at Aims.