by Alun Williams
You do not know this place or the people who dwell in it. It is not your place in time or history but this is where you have been sent. This is your first assignment, your first haunting.
The house is old. You touch things that are not yours but you need to touch their possessions. It’s what they teach you at the PHARTS. For those less knowledgeable than you, it stands for Phantoms, Hallucinations, Apparitions, and Revenants Training School. Some dead people go nowhere, some into limbo and the lucky ones get to be ghosts. The lucky ones have to be taught to do it though. It doesn’t come naturally to anyone.
Not all dead people become ghosts. You have to have something about you, and you had that something although you would be hard-pressed to know what that something was.
Now you were here. Your first haunting. You think it’s a test to see what you can do, to see if you have it in you. You don’t know these people, they are chosen at random apparently. You’re glad that this is not your landing zone. A landing zone is where every ghost eventually ends up, one place to haunt forever and eternity or until the fucking Catholic Church takes you out with an exorcism.
You don’t know who lives here, just the name of the town. Hoopla, Texas. Why Hoopla, Texas? You’re not even fucking American and all you ever knew about Texans is that they are die-hard gun-toting bigots and love Big Macs.
Still, you give it a go. It’s two fifteen am. Time to start. You start by opening and slamming bedroom doors. Wow! That got a reaction. A scream, a shout. People start congregating together in the upstairs hallway.
“What happened?” “Did you do that?” What’s going on?”
There are six of them. A mom, dad three kids, perhaps between six and fifteen and an elderly woman. Must be the obligatory grandma. They quieten down. You crank things up a notch. A gramophone starts up downstairs, Artie Shaw, you believe it’s “Stardust”.
They all turn to grandma.
“That was your grandpa’s favorite.” She says. It doesn’t phase her at all but the mom looks shit scared. You take a liking to her perhaps because she seems a sandwich short of a picnic.
You slam the door behind them. More screaming. The father disappears into the bedroom and gets his obligatory gun. He goes downstairs slowly.
You sweep his bowling trophies across the floor. You believe you see a small stain of dampness appear on his shorts. You get extra marks for that.
“What the…” he says.
You do a quick manifestation and he shoots that gun at empty air. More screams from upstairs. You go back up there. The eldest boy holds a baseball bat. Being English, you could never understand the American fascination for rounders. You make the lights flicker then take the baseball bat out of his hands and hurl it through the window.
They rush downstairs and out the door. Everyone except grandma. You start the music again and watch her face light up. Her hands hold out to clasp her long-dead husband. She hasn’t too much time left to live so you’re happy enough to leave her to her memories.
You survey the scene.
For the first haunting, you think you’ve made the grade.