I worry about… ghosts

I worry about ghosts. I know that doesn’t make me unique. A lot of people worry about ghosts.

Maybe you fear ghosts. They have, after all, been at the centre of a lot of frightening fiction over the years, insubstantial wraiths hell bent on destruction, revenge or mischief. I think being scared witless by the thought of a supernatural spirit with a single minded goal to wreck havoc on your life is a perfectly human, even rational, response to a disturbing situation.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Maybe the divulging of secrets concerns you. The potential for ghosts to gather information both during and after their lifetime is extensive. The idea that some intelligence is invisibly watching what you do is understandably worrisome. Think of your most secret shame. The thing you would never admit to, sometimes even to yourself. The ghosts know. They may tell, and in telling bring cascading waves of unbearable embarrassment down upon you.

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps your concerns are more specific, like a nagging sense of concern about how they manifest clothes. If ghosts are the souls of women and men made manifest after death, then where do the clothes come from? Does clothing have a spirit? And, perhaps more disturbingly, who picks the outfits? The clothes they died in? The clothes they were buried in? Their favourite outfit from high school? Can they change clothes? And if the clothes are malleable, why not other features? Can a women who died in her 80s come back with the look she sported in her 20s? Can a baby extrapolate what they would have looked like if they’d had the chance to grow up?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

Perhaps the defiance of natural laws unsettles you. Concerns about the application of physics to ghosts have been well documented. Many people cannot abide the thought of a ghost’s persistent failure to sink through the ground and fall towards the centre of the earth, even though they have no trouble walking through walls. Perhaps gravity has no pull on their insubstantial form, but why not? Perhaps they can move at a normal human pace through force of sheer will, but what substance does that will work on? And if they can’t interact with the physical world, how do they disturb air molecules to make all the moaning sounds?

But that’s not why I worry about ghosts.

I worry about ghosts, but maybe it is more accurate to say that I worry for ghosts. I worry that if they are real, and if they can be perceived in the physical world, that rather than being exempt from the laws of nature, they might be all too susceptible to them. The Earth hurtles around the Sun. The Sun rockets around the Galaxy even faster. The Galaxy moves in the Universe at such a speed that even if we somehow pooled the collective intelligence of every brain reading this missive we would not truly comprehend it. And with all that momentum, all that sheer velocity, I worry that in the exact moment that a spirit is released from its physical form, that insubstantial phantom is immediately left behind. The Earth hurtles on, spiralling and spinning its way across the Universe. And dotted like spectral tear drops highlighting our passage sit the ghosts. Each one alone, separated by incomprehensible distances. Each one with no way to move, stuck at the exact point in space where they died. Perhaps every now and again two people die simultaneously while lying right next to each other and have the dubious comfort of an eternity with soundless company in a frozen vacuum. And maybe occasionally some of them fleetingly impact with other stellar phenomena, a brief moment of colour and movement as an object crosses the Earth’s long deserted path and then vanishes.

But the rest of them. Oh, the rest of them. Poor bastards, scattered like breadcrumbs marking our trail through the Universe, alone, scared and most likely rapidly driven completely insane.

I worry about ghosts. I worry for ghosts. No wonder the ones that work out how to grab hold and stay with us are so cranky.

Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good. OK, sometimes good.

2 thoughts on “I worry about… ghosts”

  1. You really need to read Sparrow Hill Road by Seanan McGuire and the sequel, The Girl in the Green Silk Dress. Ghosts who are trapped on ghost highways, phantom hitchhikers, evil cars then you'll have a whole other reason to worry about ghosts. I personally worry about time travellers. They travel in time not space so a slight hundred year hop and they could possibly need a space suit.

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