The Ghost Skeptic

(From the forthcoming collection Chicken Coop & Other Stories)

“Dude, wake up,” a gruff voice commanded in the dark, before turning the bedside lamp on.

Paul kneaded his eyes with the heels of his palms, scattering supernovas across the dark of his eyelids. “You’re not talking to me. I already told you ghosts aren’t real. Rather, they could be real, but there’s no evidence for or against. My non-belief is pragmatic and based on the scientific method,” he said.

“Paul, this is going to get ugly if you don’t get your stupid meatbag ass outta that bed. I have to right wrongs on Earth so I can move on, and you’ll learn something through the quest,” the voice said. The voice seemed to come from no fixed point.

Paul sighed. “This is just a side effect of my medication. I’m going back to sleep.”

“Goddamnit Paul!” the voice barked. Prescription-strength dandruff shampoo doesn’t cause claw-like lacerations, auditory and visual hallucinations, objects moving through space, and fuckin’ ECTOPLASM!”

“The scratches are from value-priced towels, the hallucinations are from being tired, and the alleged ectoplasm is sebaceous fluid from my inflamed scalp. Goodnight, to no one and nothing, because I am alone.” Paul said, glad for having stood up for himself. He scratched his head.

Paul’s bed shook violently as if the frame were grasped at the foot. The voice screamed. “A common earthquake, and a pitiful one, at that,” Paul said.

Paul’s laptop opened, and text filled the screen: “SAMSAMSAMSAMSAMSAMSAM.”
“Russian hacking,” Paul declared.

“Listen, jackass, I have to settle accounts. I was wronged, and I need to make sure the bastards who did it to me get their comeuppance. There’s cash in it for you,” the voice said.

“Misplaced workplace anxiety,” answered Paul.

The ghost jumped in through Paul’s solar plexus and made his head turn around three times.

“Yoga must be paying off,” a smug Paul said. “Namaste.”

“I have business with the realm of the living, and I’ve chosen you as my corporeal assistant”, the Ghost said in Paul’s voice, from within Paul’s thorax.

“I have big things to do. I’m going to change the World! I believe in me, I’m a winner, and nothing can get in my way!” affirmed Paul.

The ghost swam out through the main exit, dragging a fart with him. Paul giggled.

“You screwed up big time, buddy! You could have been rich, and imbued with the power of the spirit world. You could even have been reunited with your beloved dead dog, Sparky. I’m outta here.” The ghost said, before flying through the dreamcatcher over Paul’s window and teleporting to Arizona, because Arizona is a fucked-up land of ghosts and filth.

Paul sighed. It was the third night in a row something like this had happened, and Pal wondered if he’d ever sleep soundly again.

“Is he gone?” asked a voice from under the bed.

“Yeah, it’s cool. Come on out, babe”, Paul said

“Whew, that was close” said Lady Sasquatch, as she slipped under the comforter. She pulled the bedclothing over her furry humanoid breasts, took the pink bow out of her hair, and placed it on the nightstand.

“Tell me about Sparky” she said, spooning Paul.

“No, not now. I need you to tell me everything is going to be okay,” Paul said. He buried his face in Lady Sasquatch’s forearm fur. He breathed in her musk, mammalian and foresty.

“Well, I can’t promise that babe, but I love you, and I’m here for you. We’ll do our best, one day at a time,” Lady Sasquatch said.

“I just don’t know what to believe anymore. Every day is like that old show Quantum Leap, where I wake up in fantastic circumstances I can’t immediately feel out,” Paul said.

Quantum Leap was my shit. Get in here, babe,” Lady Sasquatch said, inviting Paul into her arms.

Paul fell asleep, safe in the cryptid’s embrace, with the hope of a new dawn, and new opportunities.

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