Most of you ghosts will haunt the places where you died because you think you have unfinished business there. You’ll spend your days peering out the windows like puppies eager for their masters to return, lingering on the off chance that clairvoyant children will walk through your front doors.
You sentimental specters will extend attic steps, hoping to lure young paranormal investigators into the orgy of evidence you’ve prepared. If they take the bait you’ll tip over lamps to spotlight chests filled with photo albums and records from insane asylums. You’ll run your fingers through journals, pretending to be a gust of wind, until the pages land on the right passage.
You’ll spend your time around the living campaigning for your cause and wondering why your intentions get lost in translation. You’ll roll a tricycle to the site of your unmarked grave and wonder why no one is in a hurry to exhume the body. You’ll have the same epiphany every fledgling phantom has had before you: trying to get anything done by haunting the living is like herding cats.
You’ll get jaded trying to petition deaf ears to your cause. You’ll have telekinetic tantrums, throwing books, upending tables, and burning family photos. The next thing that will happen is you’ll turn on your new tenants. I did.
The Angry Ghost Stereotype is a Stereotype for a Reason
I set dolls at the feet of my tenants’ beds, I mimicked tremors with chandeliers, and turned antique chamber doors into automatics. I whispered home decorating tips to children, got them to draw crayon portraits of my likeness on fresh wallpaper strips, and “keep secrets” I had every intention of passing along to their parents.
When the living invaded my home I felt it was my right to use psychological warfare on them, especially when they wanted to put venetian blinds over my lace curtains and paneling over my handcrafted stacked stones. In the middle of the night, I filled digital TVs with analog static, teased pets with phantom treats, and dragged bike chains across hardwood floors.
If my tenants got bold enough to hold a séance I’d show off. I rang all the bells, blew on all the candles, and made cameos in crystal balls. I photobombed their polaroids spitting big geysers of ectoplasm into the center frame. I knocked planchettes across Ouija boards so fast you’d think I was playing air hockey.
I stigmatized the hell out of my property. Fat lot of good it did me. The moment I scared off one bothersome brood an even rowdier one would enter the picture. I was dead for generations before I realized playing the part of supernatural sentinel is for suckers.
Death gets Better
You’re not alone in wondering why your memories are intact even though your real brain is filled with maggots, or why you’re wearing the garments you died in as if your apparel was somehow stitched your soul. You’re not alone in wondering why the rest of your paranormal peers already got into heaven and that your loved ones never noticed your absence in the afterlife.
These are the thoughts the dead have to live with, but believe me the afterlife gets so much better if you let it.
The reason most spirits anchor their essence to one residence is to show their emotional investment. They need the world to remember that their lives mattered, so they keep it real by being territorial. It took me a while to realize that that deep sense of loss I was feeling was just an entrenched sense of entitlement. By tethering my soul to one piece of real-estate I was lessening my options for fun.
Don’t do that to yourself. You’re dead. You ought to live a little.
Don’t Haunt Where You Eat
Have you ever noticed how whenever you launch a tenant eviction campaign, the mother of the house always finds the exact incantation she needs to subdue you? You’re in the middle of your grand furniture flinging finale when out of nowhere she brings up all this personal shit she has no business knowing? It happens right when you’re about to drop a gargoyle on her son. You find yourself hesitating, giving her the window she needs to exorcise you (not to the great beyond but to the bizarre stasis the superstitious among us call “Limbo”).
That mother of the household accomplished this by running to the local library, cycling through the microfiche and finding the deets on your tragic death. It didn’t take her long to unraveled your weakness and leave you floating in the fog playing twenty questions with yourself.
Hey, you know where that doesn’t happen? All those towns you’ve never been.
Why not phase into a passenger seat right before the morning rush and see where the car pool takes you?
Possess the Living
The human psyche is a fragile thing, prone to intrusive thoughts, obsessive compulsive behaviors, and panic attacks (you ought to know you used to have one). People in emotionally vulnerable states are more open to spiritual invasion.
Take a depressed person’s body for a joyride. If you feel guilty about subjugating their will try doing something nice for them.
Write that novel you never got around to in life. Your host might freak out to find their peach fuzz has grown into a beard, but they’ll appreciate the manuscript you left on their coffee table.
Take a trip to the arts supply store. Your host might wonder why all their shirts are covered in paint, but they’ll appreciate the landscapes you left on the mantel.
Get down on the floor and do some crunches. Your host will be confused when they wake to find a month has past, but they’ll be grateful to discover their new washboard abs.
Improve Your Occupancy Strategy
For you ghosts looking to up your squatting game you’ll need to think long term. Before possessing a human host shadow them for a month. Not to profile their emotional vulnerability, but to inventory their social lives, work routines, and financial assets.
Memorize their login passwords, door codes, and pin numbers. A lot ghosts use the consonant system to convert these numbers into words. Use whatever works.
I’ve developed a helpful mnemonic device for memorizing names. Every time you’re introduced to a new person in your host’s life imagine someone you knew with the same name standing next to them. If you died in an era where everyone was named Dolores, Lillian, and Edith, you may need different technique.
A way around all these memorization games is to target loners in transitional periods of their lives, people who are new in town. This way other people are less likely to catch you in a lie because they know nothing about your host.
Colleges are ideal host body hotspots because most students live off of their parents and there’s a fresh crop of hosts every semester. If you don’t mind taken a few credits here and there you could stay young forever.
Every Ghost needs a Rainy Day Fund
Before leaving your host body, take them to an ATM and skim a small sum they won’t miss. Find somewhere that sells prepaid cash cards (they have a $1,000 limit) and put the money on. Now transfer those funds to an online payment system. This money won’t gain interest, but you can invest bitcoins on many open markets.
This is how I prefer to launder money from the living. There’s no paper trail and no need for an ID from this century.
Why do ghosts need to squirrel away funds? Lots of reasons:
- To buy out all the microfiche from your home town library.
- To payoff the living witnesses of your tragic death in case an exorcist comes knocking.
- To cover the cost of injuries that might happen to your host. It’s just common courtesy. Treat the host’s body like an Air BNB. Don’t leave a mess.
Pro Level Possession
So you’ve taken pessimistic people for a spin. You’ve enchanted college students and now you want to up your possession game. You want the complete life cycle experience that you missed out on.
Well there’s no free ride in this afterlife. If you want to go the distance you’ll have to put the time in. You’ll have to study neurobiology, because your next used vehicle is going to be in the ICU.
You’ll need to sit in on consultations, listening for doctors to tell families their loved ones may never wake again, and if they do they’ll have limited recollection. This adjusted expectation will excuse you from having to know anything about the person’s body you’re about inhabit.
Healthy brains can accommodate your presence until you stretch their neuroplasticity to its limit. Then it bends back. Something triggers your host’s memory and your spectral form oozes out from every orifice. The only way to avoid this is to find a brain where the host’s soul has already left.
These lodgings are far more spacious but with far less amenities. You’ll be able unpack your own memories with more clarity, you just won’t be able to move your host’s hands and feet. Not until you get to know their brain at the cellular level.
You’re going to have repair neural connections, reroute all the pathways, and get the body up and moving again, and you’re going to have to do this before their living will pulls the plug out from under you. No pressure.
It’s a lot of work, but trust me the benefits are far more substantial than tapping a message on your new tenant’s window and being mistaken for the wind.
In fact, I’m writing this blog entry from my longterm host body.
My audiobook Terms and Conditions is now free on Bandcamp. You can listen to it right here!