Tag Archives: horror

If the Dead Talk to You – Ignore Them

Wikipedia image of a ghost
This ghost has the wrong address, I swear, Belinda! You’re much better looking and I don’t even like blondes. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Time_to_let_(her)_go!.jpg

The dead talk to me.

Last night, the voice of a dead man thundered as I lay in bed. I immediately put my book down. I looked around.  In my best Scrooge voice, I asked the ghost to stop toying with me, and I let him know that he might just be an undigested bit of beef.  The voice faded away.

Then, as I started reading again, the dead man’s voice picked right back up.

Why I listened is hard to say.  What can the dead know?  They are, after all, dead, and we alive.  They can be no more than echoes of what was, and we are what is.  For now.

Not realizing his irrelevance, this dead man talked to me as I lay in bed reading.  He told me of a Hero’s Journey, and a thousand myths.

The next day, I promised myself, I would take that book to a graveyard, and bury it there, next to the head stone of one Mr. Campbell.

Some things I know.  Modern story is not about heroes and myths.  It is about the elegance of language.  It is about knowing and breaking the rules.  The modern world has nothing in common with the worlds of old.  We, as human beings in this age, are unique.

I shall not worry about whether the not-yet-living would want to read my book, should I one day be a ghost, I told myself.  I shall not worry about whether my tale illuminates some universal struggle within men and women.  My work is above all that.

It had gotten late, and the fog was wafting in through the open sliding glass door.  There were sounds outside, strange sounds, and I could not see from what they came.

Being a modern man, I Googled poltergeists, then I fell asleep to kitten videos on the Internet, as the sound of chains rattling crept into my dreams.

When I woke inside my sleep, a journey I had no interest in undertaking awaited me.  But I knew the plan.

Talk to Strangers while Pretending to be the Antagonist

Picture of a petrol station, but not a real one, by Ralf Peters
Petrol Station? But something seems a bit off. You are awake, aren’t you?

If you want to waste your time writing, drivel, I read somewhere, go ahead and write about characters you have no understanding of.

No, it would be better if, instead of writing, you explored their backstories first.  Get to know their fears, their flaws, and what kind of cereal gives them hives.

This is what was in my head when I pulled into the gas station in some strange part of town.

As luck would have it, my debit card didn’t work.  I didn’t feel much like going in and talking to the attendant.  But I knew Harlan, the twisted antagonist in a story I should be writing, would have no problem with it at all.

So instead of going in to the attendant, I sent Harlan.

Bad idea.

When the police had left, and the attendant stopped cursing, we  both laughed a little.

I told the poor gas attendant some of the horrific crimes Harlan had committed – in the backstory to my story.  We agreed that Harlan was one sociopathic MF.

It was quiet now.  The streets had seen the Tuesday night commuters come and go, leaving us alone there in the dark by the pump, save for the glow from the neon sign out front.

The attendant was quiet, his mind far away.  Then he stood up slowly.  He looked down at me, a slight grin slipping out.

“That story is something,” he said.

“But want to REALLY see something?”