Low Spirits

This was an odd competition as only two of us entered so we both became default winners. Before it was announced there were hints that the topic would include ghosts, which gave me some trepidation as I cannot take them seriously. Due to me inability to take ghosts seriously I realised that I could write the story as humour, which led to around 600 words just flowing straight away. Then the competition was actually announced and the topic wasn’t simply ghosts, but had to include humour, sex, or both. This bothered me because it meant that my story might not stand out, but then the topic was changed due to some confusion and became simply ghosts. This was my contribution.

Low Spirits

Night was drawing closer, like the scribbling of a small child who has discovered the ability to make marks on paper with a pen. Two men were standing, surveying a grisly scene. Their faces were similar, though one of the men was substantially larger and hairier than the other, looking as though one day he had eaten three of his friend and the universe decided that “you are what you eat” should be taken quite literally for a moment. The larger of the two showed little interest in the crimson carnage at the foot of the cliff, most of which was the car, whilst the smaller looked close to tears. “Do you believe in ghosts?” he asked his hirsute companion.

“A right load of bollocks, if you ask me, Pete,” came the reply.

“I was asking you.”

“Well then now you know; ghosts aren’t real.”

“I don’t know how to say this, but I think we are ghosts, Carl.”

Carl laughed, his beard shaking, “Why on Earth would you believe such nonsense?”

Pete pointed at the wreck in front of them, “Well, I think those two bodies are ours.” He gestured towards a slim corpse just outside the car and a larger, hairier corpse which was too big to have been ejected during the crash.

Carl scratched his beard and looked pensive for a moment. “I always thought that you were a handsome man, but you make a bloody ugly corpse, look at your face, it’s a right state!”

“I don’t think that’s my face,” Pete responded, “it might be my elbow.”

Carl continued to laugh, “Anatomy was never your strong suit, or so your wife tells me.”

Pete looked horrified, “A joke about my wife, at a time like this?”

“What does time mean to a ghost?” Carl pointed out. “What are ghosts meant to do anyway?”

“Why are you asking me?”

“You’re the expert, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

“Well, I don’t know,” Pete pondered for a moment, or at least he looked like he was pondering, he may have been getting gassy, if ghosts can even get gassy, “maybe we have unfinished business.”

“I’m going to sneak into changing rooms and watch women getting undressed,” said Carl with a hungry look on his face, which appeared to be his default setting. It is no surprise that his ghost beard had bits of chicken from a past meal, tangled in the hairs. Somewhere out there is the ghost of a chicken, looking to be reunited with parts of its limbs.

Pete appeared to be furious, “We die and all you want to do is be a pervert?”

Carl was unfazed by the anger, “Unfinished business. I’ve not seen nearly enough naked women and now I have the power of invisibility, isn’t that what everyone wants to do when they become invisible?”

Pete gave this some thought for a while, “The best idea I read was to beat up a mime.”

“Can we move things? Are we pole-vaulters?”

“You mean poltergeists.”

“Yeah, them, I wonder if we can work out. If I sneak into a changing room in a gym I may as well use the equipment, I need to get in shape and I can spook people at the same time, it’s a win-win-win situation.”

“There’s a lot we have to learn.” Pete looked close to tears again, possibly having gone full circle through all the emotions he could muster. “What do you think the funeral will be like?”

“Mine will be better than yours, more people will cry, and then there will be a massive piss-up. I hope we can get pissed too.” Carl was wondering what beer tastes like for ghosts and thought about making a joke about spirits.

“We’re brothers; we’ll have the same funeral.”

“I’ll be there to comfort your wife, you’re out of the picture now and I’m sure she was only with you to get to me.”

“You’re a ghost too, you idiot.”

“I told you, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

Carl watched as his brother stormed off, unable to decide whether to follow or to wait for the emergency services to arrive at the scene, which might have allowed him to hop into one of the vehicles and get a lift to somewhere closer to town. Eventually he decided to head up to the road at the top of the cliff, as it was better than doing nothing; ghosts should always be doing something, that just made sense to him. Whilst at the top of the cliff he considered throwing himself off again. He’d never been bungee jumping and this was surely much more extreme, even though ghosts couldn’t die. Or could they? Carl decided not to risk it, as he’d hate to become non-existent like fairies, dragons, and ghosts. He’d never really figured life out and would be damned if he could not figure out this strange post-mortem existence, perhaps even literally. As Carl looked down at the bodies below he decided to have some fun, picking up a rock and hurling it at Pete’s body. But nothing happened. Carl had to face the fact that as a pole-vaulter he would never touch and feel again. No more sex. No more food. No more sex. No more drink. No more sex. Not that he really got much, but it upset him nonetheless. The ghost of Carl collided with the floor at the bottom of the cliff with the same amount of force exerted in a staring competition.

As the Sun set, giving off colours which suggest that the child had discovered crayons, Carl morosely shuffled home, a failure in life and a failure in death, unable to even kill himself a second time, though he might have been responsible for the first. Several cars sped straight through his body, if you could even call it a body, clearly unable to see him. He’d have given anything for a car to swerve, even if it took them off the road, that way he could have a few friends, mentoring them in the way of the ghost, which Carl thought sounded like a form of Kung Fu involving blowing on your attacker and making eerie noises. Bouncing off of a bonnet would have been a God-send. As Carl walked into the town he passed through a bus full of passengers, a couple of people jogging, two old ladies having a loud conversation about some youth who had spat at them, a young woman walking a dog, and a youth who was spitting at old ladies.

The streets were all familiar, yet seemed so strange and unreal to Carl. He wasn’t sure where to go as his ghost pockets held no ghost keys so he couldn’t go home, not that they’d have worked anyway. After a short while of wandering, probably not long at all when Carl’s attention span is considered, he spotted something which cheered him up: the local swimming baths, nearing closing time. A group of young people with wet hair and the distinct smell of chlorine were walking through one of the open doors, but Carl went straight for the closed door next to them, bouncing off of it like a ghost bouncing off of a door, if you believe in ghosts. He dusted himself off, removing no dust as he was a ghost, and waded through the kids at the open door. Carl headed straight for the changing rooms, making sure to pick the right one, which was of course the wrong one as Carl could never be mistaken for a woman. The room was completely empty, so he decided to get some sleep inside an open locker.

Carl wasn’t sure if he was dozing off or not, as he was mostly wondering how he could close his eyes at all, considering his eyelids were now translucent. His wondering was interrupted by the closing of the locker by the caretaker, trapping him inside. Instead of panicking, which he decided is a bit useless when you are dead, Carl saw the brighter side of the situation – he could get some undisturbed sleep in here and would wake up to naked women getting ready for a swim.

Hours of thinking about eyelids passed by before Carl heard any signs of life, which caused him to wonder what signs of death sound like, concluding that they sounded like him. He had spent some time pondering the possibility that he was a ghost, and then went back to thinking about eyelids. The voices he heard were not women, which panicked Carl until he remembered his rule about ghosts not panicking. He pressed his ear up against the locker to listen to the conversation.

“What are we doing with these lockers?”

“Scrap yard I think, they’ve been here since I were a lad, who’d want them?”

Carl spent the rest of the day being tossed about, thrown into what felt like the back of a van for much of the time. He had a new goal in death. He would find whoever made up the rules for ghosts and give them a good telling off, maybe a slap if that was within the rules, for who in their right mind would allow cars and people to pass through a ghost, yet not allow ghosts to pass through doors and walls and lockers? And that rule about not panicking, that one annoyed him the most.

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