Space Capsule calling Planet Earth! Retired Astronaut Vincent Grant reporting for duty! Nope, wasn’t sucked into a space vortex and no Klingons round Uranus. My damn daughter gone and put me in a home, the thanks you get for fifty odd years of washing nappies. When she was small I used to take the kids riding in the Studebaker down to the tip, and I’d say ‘Now Millie, you stop biting your mother or I am going to leave you here on this tip.’ Sure enough the girl would quiet down fast but damn her when she said she was going to leave me on the tip she’s gone and done it. The Grants were always big on revenge.
Bunch of crotchety old fools in here let me tell you. I said where do I get the Internet I got writing lessons I got to keep up. Mrs Doodlewhatsit was all, ‘you got TV and you got bingo what you need Internet for that’s for kids’. The only time I get online is pizza night and that’s got be shared with Alfred Stott and his dumb ass Facebook.
So we will now learn how to write a real ghost story. You will want to do this to scare your wretched ungrateful children into line or to have something to do when you’re 3 days into lunar orbit and run out of drinking songs. Note this SUBTLE ART of DEFLECTION. You basically have to say everything backwards to the way you want the audience to take it. By making yourself sound like a complete idiot you will have everyone convinced. GHOST STORY JUJITSU! I will give you the MASTER STEPS.
STEP ONE: Always start by saying of course you don’t believe in ghosts and hauntings and all that shoot. Because the more you say you don’t believe in it the more they will believe everything you say. “Of course ghosts are a load of crap” immediately gets the response ‘Yeah? Maybe they ain’t!’ The audience wants to argue and this is the first thing they latch on to.
STEP TWO: Now you have to throw in some Essence Of Humble Times. This was back when you were ‘ a poor student living on noodles’. Or you ‘were stuck without a job living with your crazy religious parents’ or ‘had this job in a dingy office’. Never ever place the story when you were running the local Wells Fargo and sniffing coke off a hooker’s tits. People are suckers for hard luck stories and somehow being a bum makes you more attuned to the spirit realm. Or maybe rich people don’t get haunted, I wouldn’t know.
STEP TWO and a BIT: If you do go for the student/hippy/wacko angle you should throw in some weed or booze or whatever kids do these days, Quaaludes? But you always got to say that you didn’t notice any effects. Like ‘I was up to my fifth bowl of Quaaludes but they hadn’t kicked in at all’.
STEP THREE: So the place you’re at has a really bad reputation but you don’t think much of it. Like ‘people said that my front room was where 3000 Indian braves were squashed by a giant alien skull but the rent was pretty cheap so I took it.’ Always make the bad stuff sound real bad and your nonchalance real flippant. Because then they think that you deserve what comes next!
STEP FOUR: Keep it mundane! Whatever you were doing that night has to be really dull. Like slopping out the pig pen or arranging the fork drawer so the forks are all lined up. No one ever has ghosts when they’re disco bumper bowling.
STEP FOUR and a BIT: This is where you need a pardner. Lots of ways to play this – a younger brother works great, some people use the dog but whoever it is they have to be Robin to your Batman. You get to excuse all kinds of stupid moves in convincing the pardner that there’s no such things as ghosts. Fool me once fool you twice or fool me again or whatever young Bush said.
STEP FIVE: Now something’s definitely not right but you are going to shrug it off. Sure, some problem with the aircon makes it below zero which is why the cat is now hoisting itself up the wall backwards speaking Latin and I reckon it’s the wind that is making those cupboard doors slam in Morse code U R G O I N G 2 D I E. Same old.
STEP SIX: Here’s where your pardner is going to suggest something sensible like let’s get the hell out or don’t you go wading into the dark pit where the screaming is from. Because then you have your excuse to go do exactly that dumb ass thing just to show them up.
STEP SIX and a BIT: Sometimes you can use the little brother wandering off as the excuse. Or sometime you think you hear him calling from down the Hall Of Doom, when really he’s still straightening those forks.
STEP SEVEN: All systems nominal, we have ignition! You can drop in pretty much anything now, although creepy little girls in period clothing has served well for the last couple of centuries and damned if people won’t be seeing creepy little girls on Mars in the year 3000. Apart from that bitch of a daughter of mine I don’t know what it is that makes little girls the worst case scenario for floating upside down in the basement gibbering.
STEP EIGHT: Robin having already got the hell out of Dodge you are right behind him and somehow end up in the Bat car first. Get out of there!
STEP NINE: the next day everything is normal and you look stupid.
So let’s check out this writing system in action!
“Now I don’t believe in ghosts or any of that but something weird happened back when I was out of school one summer back east. I just couldn’t find a vacation job and my parents were giving me the evil eye every breakfast about it. So when I heard they needed somebody to straighten the forks at the local piggery I figured the low pay would be offset by a break from the toxins at home and maybe be enough to buy me some underpants.
There wasn’t too much competition for the position, probably due to rumors that circulated about the place. The farm was supposed to have been built over an old graveyard and pigs would occasionally go missing only to be found picked clean and buried some days later. Joe at school reckoned he’d once seen a hand come out from the muck reach up and reel in a squealing pig, trotter first, but then he also said his dead mother slept with him at night which was a better reason to avoid the guy entirely.
I got the job. One other guy was already working there called Smiley on account of his being a bit simple, an oversized kid but seemingly harmless & not much for conversation. I asked him about the graveyard and he just shrugged it off. He’d do the spoons while I was on the forks, the manager would do the knives during the day. Did I mention this was the night shift?
The night in question was extra muggy and the pigs were making a hell of a racket over something. I’d soon learned that pigs enjoy bacon as much as anyone and there was always a smaller or sicker animal being noisily worn down by the pack. Smiley was in a foul mood and kept bending the spoons. My forks were tangling around each other for no reason and it was taking all my concentration to keep the prongs on the straight and narrow. The racket from outside kept on the up and up until it reached a crescendo of porcine howling and hooting around 3am.
Suddenly the noise from outside went dead quiet. Not a grunt, not a squeel – quiet like a gunshot. Once the shock wore down a little I started to feel curious. Something was going on in the yard and even while real scared I had to know. Grabbing one of the bigger forks I started out to the back door.
‘No! You no go!’, howled Smiley, ‘Under yard bad pigs! Pigs coming!’
Somehow the warning made me more curious to find out what was going down. Plus I figured it was my job to reassure Smiley that everything was going to be just fine.
‘Just fine’, I murmured.
There was no light in the yard – I guess I’d never been out this way at night. I stumbled softly to where I knew the gate would be, rolling the fork along the wire for sonar. Nothing stirred, no sound. What on earth was making the pigs that quiet? Maybe I could reach in and tap one, see what happened. Right then I heard the front door slam shut. Smiley had exited the scene, at speed. Coward I thought.
Through the gate and tiptoeing gingerly through the yard, I kept sweeping my boot to touch a pig. But the slush kept on further than I seemed to remember – or just deserted? As my eyes adapted I could catch a soft pink glow coming from up ahead, at ground level. What would you do? I went towards it.
It – was a ditch – no, a hole – straight edged – a big hole – light was coming up out of the ground – pink light – a kind of haze and – there were the pigs. Lined up. Lined up in rows. Making…
Damn Alfred Stott wants his Facebook now I’ll have to finish this next time.