Haunted Objects

I moved to a place with high ceilings. Ceilings so high I need a ladder just to change the light bulbs in my bedroom. I also require a ladder to access the windows and to hang art. 

I go to a lot of garage sales. It’s partly because I’m cheap, and was raised appreciating second hand things. I also love haggling for a cheap price, something you can’t do at WalMart. I hunt for beautiful, original, and vintage items. 

So when I saw how pricey ladders are, the thought crossed my mind to find one at a garage sale. But then I thought, you don’t want a used ladder. What if the previous owner fell and died, and now their ghost haunts the ladder causing accidents for anyone that might use the ladder? 

Where’s my writing journal, I thought, I need to write this down. 

Looking through my collection (hoard), I have so many great objects that have the potential to be haunted items. Not really, but in a fictional kind of way. I’m not sure I even believe in ghosts. Spirits, souls, vibes, residual energies, maybe.

But in a horror fiction sense, I started thinking of a series of short stories surrounding haunted items. How does an item become haunted? The ghost must have a connection to the object, maybe it was something they cherished like a ring, or something they used everyday like a paintbrush. In the case of the ladder, maybe the object becomes haunted when it causes a death. 

Can an object be haunted by more than one ghost? Can each person who falls from the cursed ladder end up connected to it, or is there a one ghost limit? Places can certainly have multiple hauntings, but what about objects?

Do certain materials attract and hold ghosts better than others? If so, is it connected to that material’s ability to conduct electricity? 

Do ghosts haunt things because they have unfinished business, want revenge, weren’t ready to die, died suddenly?

So each story will describe an object. Then it will show how the item comes into the possession of the new owner and the resulting haunting. Then it will tie in to the previous owner. 

The ring, it’s colours, the stone, maybe it’s from eBay. A woman buys it, and begins thinking she is someone else when she wears it, does things out of character for her, has weird memories. Turns out, a woman in an insane asylum wore it, and it was stolen when she died. 

The paintbrush, what it’s handle and bristles are made of, it’s at an estate sale. The new artist finds when he uses it, he blacks out, and doesn’t remember painting what is on the canvas when he wakes up in the morning. The previous owner was an artist who never became famous, but whose spirit remains obsessed with making art. 

I would photograph the objects and use a high contrast black and white filter to make them look spooky.

In the mean time I’m watching the fliers for ladder sales. 

Morbidity

In this short story I wanted a Lovecraft-inspired first person nameless narrative style. I am trying to portray what the mind of someone struggling with mental illness would be like. I worked on it and set it aside for awhile, I was over-editing and cut out a lot because it just seemed like too much. I didn’t want it to lose believability and I didn’t want to come off as stereotypical. I decided to keep it the way it is now instead of try and rework it any more. Maybe one day it will call me to work on it again, but I’ve moved on to other projects.

 

 

Morbidity

(diseased, gruesome, gloomy, unhealthy)

I began to grow weak struggling with life.

I felt my soul turn hard and black, crusting over all the silver-shine blue that had at the best of times provided me with the light of hope. I was dying and withering inside to a miserable loathsome mirror of all that I ever despised. I knew it would end, I just didn’t know when. Could I get to the point where I succumbed to selfishness and left my dear friends and family behind? I would not pain them so.

I became blank.

There was nothing I could do to control my mind. I would return to nightmares in sleep and the day only conjured worse. Carrying a glass down the stairs, I trip and fall, jagged shards stabbing my face and neck. Speeding down a highway I swerve into oncoming traffic. I leap from an airplane and deliberately not pull the parachute cord.

Staring at the numbers on the clock, seeing facial features in the numbers. 4:07 is happier with his jaunty smile than the queasy 4:05. Staring out the window. Staring at the wall. Staring at the roof. Thinking. Empty.

The best way to kill yourself is to overdose. For a few brief seconds you can escape the pain of life before everything that plagues you is gone.

The best way to kill yourself is to drown in a river. You put your body back to nature and the running waters wash away the stains and purify your corrupted soul.

The best way to kill yourself is to jump from a very tall building. Don’t look down, look to the sky, doesn’t everyone yearn to fly?

But just like how you blink when you try to poke yourself in the eye, it’s not that easy to decide how and when to die.

People would look at me as though I hadn’t seen them in years. There was nothing to talk about.

I enjoyed silent seclusion. I wanted distance.

The mental illness ravaging my brain was never diagnosed, my doctor always assured me I was normal. I never trusted him enough to tell the truth. He would check my blood for imaginary parasites that were never there, and tell me to eat vegetables instead of pills. I was never told I was dying but I could sense everything going wrong inside. An oncoming brain aneurysm, heart attack, lung cancer, flesh eating disease. Everything was going wrong.

My skin cracked apart and bled. The rough callouses would flake off exposing red, inflamed tissue beneath. It always itched, and I always scratched. People recoiled in shock and disgust at the sores that sometimes looked like burns. Where it got under my fingernails it left them distorted with ridges and receding from the tips. I had no choice but to wear gloves, white cotton.

Avoiding social interaction was a must. The times I’d have to leave my solitude, I’d summon all my courage and go out and do what ever errand needed to be done so I could rush back to my sanctuary. I would replay every scene and analyze my behaviour. I shouldn’t have said that to the cashier. The look she gave me- I know she was judging me. I won’t go to that store anymore. It’s getting harder to take the bus because I don’t want the others to see me. The bus is so unsafe. What is stopping everyone from dying? It’s why I sold my old car, it was going to crash and burn, it was going to drive off a bridge, it was surrounded with a magnetic force that pulled in disaster. I didn’t drive much then anyway because if I didn’t know where to park I couldn’t go. What if I lost the car?

You try to stop crying, but you can’t.

Hands shaking, wet, clinging to the sopping mess of your face. Squeezing your eyes shut tight won’t stop the anguish of your mind. You revert to subconscious instincts for comfort in forced regulated breathing, tightening yourself into a ball and rocking back and forth. Soon you lose control of your sinus, which is a stream that matches the leaks from the eyes. Shortly after that, the pounding headache and pleasant but eerie sense of calm.

I stopped working. I didn’t deserve to be there, and I had to quit before they found out I was an imposter, a fraud. Some of the coworkers suspected. I could see their eyes rolling at me, their clothes so much more expensive and fashionable. Their lives so much more successful. I could hear their sighs of boredom and frustration at tolerating my presence, I could hear them talking to each other and it was about me. Even when I couldn’t hear them I still knew they didn’t like me because I was not as good as them and I never would be.

I lay in bed with the inner voices tormenting me, reviewing all the terrible things I’ve ever said and done. I’d recall a negative comment from someone again and again, and I believed it more than any positive thing anyone had ever told me. When spirits start flying around your head and into your ears they begin to convince you to move on. The wind is made entirely of these spectres, I found the more concentrated areas to be places where many feel the irresistible pull to climb all the way to the top of the trestle and dive into oblivion.

The sun set a burning red disk. The storm that came was severe.

Lights flickered and dimmed, the sky flared a green ghostly glow.

The audible hum of something being interrupted, as I swear the building had been struck.

I felt it pulsing through me, every hair on end, a cold rush, as the electrical field engulfed me.

Rain in torrents. Panic. Sirens.

Fiery cloud beds, sparking with intensity and bursting with fire and water and wind.

When the time came it was unexpected, a process required for survival but led to demise.

The fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil wasn’t necessarily an apple.

I was finishing the last bites of the peach, when the pit slipped into my throat and cut off the air. I was grabbing at the slippery stone with fingers just pushing it down farther. Like fainting, everything went black. When I awoke, all I could sense with my vision was this grey haziness surrounding me. I no longer have a body but I still feel all the aches and pains, a never ending struggle. All that relief and serenity I hoped to achieve was a lie. There is no comfort in purgatory.

What Kids Like

I asked a class of grade threes what their favourite kinds of books are.

As individuals with their own developed interests and personalities, their answers varied but I was looking for common themes. Several indicated they liked the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books, which I am familiar with but haven’t completely read. I know he illustrates the stories, which is exactly what I would like to do. When asked why they liked this series, the kids said because they are so funny. This made a few remember that they like to read joke books too, which I have always been a fan of puns, and could certainly work some jokes into my writing. Why was the teacher wearing sunglasses in the classroom? Her students were very bright!

More than one said they like to read spooky stories, mentioning R. L. Stine and the “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” books. I loved both when I was young! These are my kind of kids, I thought. They probably also love Halloween as much as I do. One boy interrupted during this part of the discussion to say he did not like scary stories. Well, that’s why we have so many kinds of books to choose from, I said. The illustrations from the “Scary Stories” books still stand out in my mind. This too could be a format for me to illustrate my writing.

Some said they liked books based from video games, and in particular, Mine Craft. I asked if it was because they liked building, and finding and joining the resources to make things. The creative side that I am attracted to. No, they just like playing Mine Craft. I probably won’t be putting any video game inspired books on the market.

Most of the children agreed they liked reading books that had pictures, and if it was a chapter book they like it better when the chapters aren’t so long. I have to say I do too, when the chapters are short you feel like you are accomplishing more, if they are really long you start flipping through the pages to see how much is left before the next chapter break.

One kid likes reading books about rocks and minerals. I admitted I did too, and that I also collect those things. I wonder if he was into the strictly scientific side or the metaphysical properties as well? I didn’t ask. It made me want to write fantasy based on special gems and crystals that give the characters magical powers.

They started getting fidgety and I wrapped up the discussion. Someone was making fart sounds and I asked if they like books about farts? Uproarious laughter. I decided to tell a funny story about diarrhea, because the mood was right and I wanted to see their reaction. Hopefully no one complains to their parents and I get called to the principal’s office to explain why I thought a story about diarrhea was appropriate for the Community Circle.

“Has anyone here heard of diabetes? Yes, my dad has it too. It’s a serious condition that you have to check your blood and take medicine or you can get really sick. I think we all know what diarrhea is. (Pause for laughter) This is a true story. A few weeks ago this girl comes up to me and says, Teacher, I have diabetea. What? Do you mean diabetes? When you check your blood sugar and stuff? Or do you mean… when you…. are pooping a lot? (Laughter) She says, I mean the kind where my poop is all melty! Oh! You mean diarrhea, not diabetea! She says, ya, I get those two mixed up all the time. (They totally thought this was comedy gold even though it doesn’t seem as funny now that I’m typing it.)

The kids were all laughing so hard. Maybe it’s because you are not really supposed to talk about bathroom words at school? Or it was kind of shocking to hear a grown-ass woman making poop jokes?