by Alun Williams
know this place or the people who dwell in it. Its
not your place in time or history but this is
where youve been sent. This is your first
assignment, your first haunting.
The house is old. You touch things that arent
yours but you need to touch their possessions. Its
what they teach you at the PHARTS. For those less
knowledgeable than you, it stands for Phantoms,
Hallucinations, Apparitions, and Revenants
Training School. Some dead people go nowhere,
some into limbo and the lucky ones get to be
ghosts. The lucky ones have to be taught to do it
though. It doesnt come naturally to anyone.
Not all dead people become ghosts. You have to
have something about you, and you had that
something although you would be hard-pressed to
know what that something was.
Now youre here. Your first haunting. You
dont know these people, theyre chosen
at random apparently. Youre glad that this
is not your landing zone. A landing zone is where
every ghost eventually ends up, one place to
haunt forever and eternity or until the fucking
Catholic Church takes you out with an exorcism.
You dont know who lives here, just the name
of the town. Hoopla, Texas. Why Hoopla, Texas?
Youre not even fucking American and all you
ever knew about Texans is that they are die-hard
gun-toting bigots and love Big Macs.
Still, you give it a go. Its two fifteen am.
Time to start. You start by opening and slamming
bedroom doors. Wow! That got a reaction. A scream,
a shout. People start congregating together in
the upstairs hallway.
What happened? Did you do that?
Whats going on?
There are six of them. A mom, dad three kids,
perhaps between six and fifteen and an elderly
woman. Must be the obligatory grandma. They
quieten down. You crank things up a notch. A
gramophone starts up downstairs, Artie Shaw, you
believe its Stardust.
They all turn to grandma.
That was your grandpas favorite.
She says. It doesnt phase her at all but
the mom looks shit scared. You take a liking to
the older woman perhaps because she seems a
sandwich short of a picnic.
You slam the door behind them. More screaming.
The father disappears into the bedroom and gets
his obligatory gun. He goes downstairs slowly.
You sweep his bowling trophies across the floor.
You believe you see a small stain of dampness
appear on his shorts. You get extra marks for
You do a quick manifestation and he shoots that
gun at empty air. More screams from upstairs. You
go back up there. The eldest boy holds a baseball
bat. Being English, you could never understand
the American fascination for rounders. You make
the lights flicker then take the baseball bat out
of his hands and hurl it through the window.
They rush downstairs and out the door. Everyone
except grandma. You start the music again and
watch her face light up. Her hands hold out to
clasp her long-dead husband. She hasnt too
much time left to live so youre happy
enough to leave her to her memories.
You survey the scene.
For the first haunting, you think youve
made the grade.