Flash Friday 11/04/2014: Engrossed With a Ghost
Daniel opened the fridge to see a box of corn flakes within.
He often did this trick; a very special magic trick where the only audience was himself. In it, he would change the places of the milk and the cereal, so the corn flakes were cold and the milk was slowly becoming cheese. He often blamed himself for this sort of thing — a little absent-minded switcheroo in the morning — but ever since he had moved into this house, he had another element to blame.
“So you nooooticeeeed,” a bodiless male voice said.
Daniel turned around. Of course, he couldn’t actually see anything. The poltergeist never actually showed themself. He had, however, managed to catch it trying to mix the reds with the whites, re-arranging series of books in the wrong order, and flipping the calendar over to the wrong month.
“Alright.” Daniel took the cereal out, closing the fridge and facing the room. “Who are you?”
“I am…a ghoooost.”
“Yes, I know, you already said that. I also know that you’re haunting me w–”
“And I am haunting yoooou,” the voice interrupted, “with illogical and irresponsible shelving plaaaans.”
“Yes, yes, I know. The point is, though, who are you? Why are you doing things like this?” He held up the cold cereal box. “What is your motive?”
“This hooouse. It was mine onceee. I built it. From my own blueprints. From my own two haaands.”
“Sounds like you had a lot of time on your hands.”
“Not nearly as much as I do noooow.”
“Well, you, er…did a good job with the place.”
“You would have no idea of such a thinnggg. Do you know what this drawer is foooor?”
A drawer at the other side of the kitchen slowly slid open.
“That drawer? That is for the knives and forks.”
“That…is where you are wrrooonnng.”
The drawer slammed shut again as the lights in the room flickered.
“This draweerrr…is next to a counter top. Do you know what this meeeeanns? That the ideal layout for this drawer are…baking utensilllsss.”
Daniel shook his head to himself. “I can’t believe I’m being haunted by the ghost of feng shui.”
“You are not. I am just bringing the house…back to equilibriummmm.”
“Which is why you put cereal in the fridge?”
“No. That was just funnyyy. As was everything else I did. You still haven’t found your car keys yet, have yooou? I like where I put thooose. You’ll be a skeleton before you find out where I put them.”
Daniel frowned, as if experiencing a migraine. “Look, okay, okay. If you help me re-arrange the house so that it’s back to the style that you imagined, will you finally leave me alone?”
“My spirit will be at rest, and finally…I can move oooon.”
“Okay, so…what goes in the cupboard under the sink?”
“That would be…cleaning fluiidddss.”
“And the cupboard to the right?”
“Plates and boooowls. Do you see why? Because when you have washed them up, you can leave them to dry and then put them awaaaay.”
“But I put saucepans in there right now. I mean, aren’t they effectively bowls?”
The entire room suddenly dropped into a blood red light. “YOU DO NOT, EVER, USE A SAUCEPAN AS A BOOOOOWWWLLL.”
Daniel recoiled. “Okay, okay!”
The light returned to normal. “If I ever catch you doing that againnnn, I’m going to hide…the toilet paperrrr.”
Daniel shivered. “Okay, fine. The cupboard to the right of the sink will have plates. What about the cupboard to the left?”
“You know what? This will take…foreveerrr.”
“I thought you said that wasn’t a problem for you.”
“Just because I’m dead, doesn’t mean I can lose my patience with peoplllle. Listennn, if I leave it in your hanndds, I know you’re going to do something silly with the setup. Like putting the saucepans where the booowls gooo.”
“You’re not going to let me live that one down, are you?”
“Instead of having you lug your fleshy body about, I have…a propositionnnn.”
A piece of paper floated past Daniels nose. Picking it up off the floor, he saw that it was, in fact, some money.
“Hooow about you go watch a movie for yourseeellff. Invite some friends, if you liiiike. Then, while you’re out, I can…fix the place.”
Daniel turned the note over in his hand. “I didn’t know ghosts carried money.”
“We don’t. That’s yours.”
“My offer is still valiiiid. Go watch a nice chick-flick or something, and I will make your house look…amazzzingg.“
“And you promise you’ll stop haunting me?”
“I can’t promise I won’t dip your hand in warm water. Come on, that was…hilariousss.”
“No it wasn’t.”
“No. Look, just get the house fixed, and then leave me alone. Forever. From everything.”
“Very well. But if I ever come back, and find you’ve messed it up again, there will be…hell to payyyy. And the toilet paper.”
“Right.” Daniel nodded. “And the toilet paper.”
“Now that we have reached an agreement…go.”
Daniel turned and left the kitchen, note in hand. Already he could hear all the cupboards and drawers slamming open, their contents being shuffled about at inhuman speeds. Just so long as it didn’t judge him when he couldn’t be bothered to use an actual bowl some days, he figured he could have some sort of peaceful co-existence with this ghost. Even if he was a bit picky.