“Something is haunting this apartment…and I’m looking at it right now.”
Do you know what the hardest thing is about being a ghost? It’s when you’re terrified of fellow ghosts, and you have to figure out stuff on your own.
THE TRUMAN SHOW meets Supernatural. That was the first thing that came to my mind the first time I woke up dead. The world around me was fake, and everyone was simply pretending not to see or hear me. And when I tried touching them and couldn’t, I convinced myself that they were all fakes, too. Medically induced hallucinations. Holograms. 3D animations that were realistic as shit. It was only when strangers had come walking in my apartment, talking about how lucky they were to get the place cheap, that I realized I wasn’t imagining things.
‘So what if the former owner died here? It’s not like ghosts are real.’
And that, ladies and gentlemen, was how I learned I was a ghost.
I PRAYED AFTER THAT, and I’d probably have prayed until the Second Coming if I hadn’t accidentally clashed gazes with the little girl sitting by the window sill. The dangerous side, mind you, with her legs dangling thirteen stories off the ground. I was already yelling for her to get back inside when she smiled at me. A lopsided smile that revealed blood-covered teeth, and well, that was my first lesson in the afterlife: ghosts (me) can be afraid of other ghosts (them).
A SELF-TAUGHT CRASH course followed shortly after my first paranormal encounter. How to Survive lessons mostly dealt with my abilities. I learned what it took to walk and to float, learned what to do so I could pass through doors if I needed to or turn the doorknob if I wanted to play alive (as opposed to playing dead, har har har). I also learned, or maybe realized was the better term, that being a ghost meant no longer experiencing a need or drive to eat, sleep, or even pee. On the other hand, my range of emotions remained the same: I was still capable of feeling wistful and angry, happy and sad, but more often than I wished, I was just plain terrified.
And that’s where the How to Hide lessons come to play. I’m not sure if this makes me an afterlife racist or just one big scaredy-cat, but the other ghosts still frightened the shit out of me, and through a couple of impromptu trials by error, I eventually learned how to keep out of their way.
Ghosts kept to themselves as a rule, and there were only two exceptions to this. Either someone
was stupid enough to communicate with them (Bloody Mary in front of a mirror, anyone?)…or you happened to be the reason why they were still stuck on Earth. And if the latter turned out to be true…well then, you’re fucked.
People who die in freak accidents that you never thought would happen in real life? Ghosts.
People who are in their prime dying in their sleep? Ghost.
People who pride themselves for being vegan and then dying of a heart attack? Ghost.
That’s why I keep saying it: if you want a mess-free life, don’t mess with a ghost.
IT TOOK A WHILE FOR me to acclimatize, but it did happen, and my days settled into a normal routine. I mostly divided my time between floating around shopping malls (more people, less ghosts, that’s always the rule) and haunting the lobby in my apartment building because it was still home. Routines made me feel normal. They gave me an excuse to pretend I was leading an afterlife without excitement by choice. I truly thought routines were all I had…until him.
FAST FORWARD TO THE present, and I was meekly following behind Tall, Dark and Harsh while he remained on the phone, his voice brisk as he barked out order after order like someone extremely used to making things happen.
When we made it to the basement parking and reached his car, he gestured for me to get in, and I obediently floated into the passenger seat while he remained outside, a harsh expression on his handsome face.
Security footage…delete…Apartment 13B.
That was all I could manage to lip-read, but it was more than enough to have me looking away with a wince. The thing was, I had gotten so used to walking wherever I wanted that I had forgotten how only ghosts like me didn’t have to worry about being caught trespassing by CCTV cameras. Obviously, that was not the case at all for the living, and when Hadrian finally got inside the car, I couldn’t keep myself from saying sorry for, like, the tenth time. It was all I could do, since I wasn’t exactly in the ideal state to make amends.
Hadrian’s tone was brief, but because I was worried that he was just being polite, I couldn’t help myself from saying sorry one last time. “I truly, truly am, and I truly didn’t mean to cause any trouble—-”