Flash Friday 25/07/2014: The Spirit is Unwilling
“It’s not as complex as you might think.” Taylor adjusted the tie around his neck. “All we ask is that you get with the modern times. That’s all.”
The ghost blinked. It was a small ghost, no taller than one foot, and looked like a football with a white cloth over the top. Two beady eyes regarded Tylor, but it had no idea what he was talking about.
“Look.” Taylor drew a smart phone from his pocket. “We have this haunted house, right? And we want to attract people to it. This day and age, you have to get digital. The internet is prime with all sorts of marketing tactics and ways to build a platform for yourself. See, we could put you on Facebook, so you could better interact with the fans. Or maybe Twitter? See, we could have you tweet within some popular ghost hashtags. I’m thinking something like ‘I will haunt you until the end of days #justghostthings’. You know, get your name out there.”
The ghost peered at the bright screen. It knew of words. It used to say and write words. It didn’t have much use for them after death, however. Most ghosts just kept to themselves. Some would scream things such as ‘where is my head’ or ‘bring me the heart of my enemies’ but they didn’t write novels or have conversation over coffee or anything. It didn’t know how these words on the screen would make the haunted house better. Maybe it was just being naive.
“And drop all the ‘boo’ and the ‘blarg’ nonsense. Everyone knows those are old hat. We’re no longer in the Nosferatu phase of the early twentieth century, you know. We need something more gripping, something that appeals to today’s audience. What they need is an intense, strong narrative. Something to keep them coming back. You can do that, can’t you?”
The ghost simply stared.
“You’re very hard to work with, you know.” Taylor pocketed the phone. “I sincerely hope the other spirits are more negotiable than you. If I’m to make profit off of this excursion, I’m going to have to recoup the price of purchasing a haunted mansion in the first place, and I can’t do it with deadweight clients like you.”
“Hey Taylor,” a man called out from behind him. He was short and stout, wearing a pin-stripe suit. “Any luck?”
“Not yet, Gareth. This one isn’t even talking to me. I think he understands me, though. I’ve been telling him not to do all that stupid ‘boo’ nonsense that ghosts always do. So passé.”
“Are you kidding? People love that stuff. They won’t touch a haunted house unless they know they’re gonna jump out their skins. Stuff popping out of drawers, cupboards, cabinets, you name it. It’s a riot, and perfect photo opportunities too.”
“We don’t need cheap startles. What we do need is proper story, and pacing, and engaging cliffhangers.”
“What, you’re gonna have all our ghosts start quoting Shakespeare or something? People come here to get scared, not to get bored out of their minds with some stupid plot. They’re ghosts, Taylor. Spooking people is what they do best.”
The pair quickly got into a heated debate over something the ghost didn’t really mind. It had forgotten how to feel anger a long time ago. As far as ghosts went, it got off pretty well — people sometimes died full of rage, or regret, or despair. This ghost passed away while feeling ‘pretty alright’, meaning that it was suitably comfortable no matter what happened. Because of such, it patiently waited for the two men to stop bickering.
“Look, listen,” Gareth said. “I have an idea. We don’t know anything about the ghost market. We know nothing about what’s hot, what the top scares are, the market trends, all that crap. So, how about we do some research before making a decision?”
“And how are we going to do that?”
“Well, this little guy isn’t saying much, but…he might have connections, yeah? A network of little ghost friends we might be able to talk to. We could ask them about their business models, and use it for inspiration. I think it’s the best choice of action.”
Taylor shrugged. “Well, alright then. Hey, little ghost. Show us where your friends are, so we can conduct a proper conversation.”
The ghost blinked.
“Take us. To other ghosts. Business transaction.”
The ghost stared.
“Friends. Go. To. Friends. You have friends, yes? Go to friends. Show us friends.”
The ghost felt a spike of excitement for the first time in a very long while. Yes, it had a lot of friends. Why did it not introduce the living ones to the friends beforehand? Maybe its politeness died alongside it. Giving a nod, the ghost floated over to a large set of doors, opening them using the poltergeist powers that gifted ghosts like himself had.
Yes, here they all were, haunting the old dining room. It was a favourite haunt (literally) for the ghosts in the mansion, and the perfect place to meet them all. The ghost could see all of its friends from here. There was the one that was beheaded and carried its head under an arm. There was the ghost who was sliced almost cleanly in half, peeling away from head to stomach. One of them had died from their limbs being removed, and could move their hands and feet independant from their body. Very, very interesting friends. Far more interesting than itself, it felt.
Of course, all of its friends were interested in the humans, shooting them cold, dead stares from their black eyes. The ghost did enjoy mixing and matching its friends together. Everyone could enjoy the company of one another.
The ghost turned to see the human’s joyful reactions, but instead caught them as they ran through the front door and slammed it behind them.
The ghost frowned with sadness. They could have said they were shy beforehand.