Sunday, August 4, 2013


I’m not sure why people think ghosts will devour your soul. They have to be some stupid, ignorant, dumber than death ghosts to do that since the moment you go eating up souls, you call down every half-wit ghost-hunter and whatever superstitions he or she has, and one of them is bound to “banishing-to-hell” thing right eventually.

No, real ghosts don’t really do that. They nibble at souls, delicately around the corners where no one notices. They act more like moths in a cedar chest than monsters in the closet, taking little bits that no one notices until years and years have past and someone finally brushes out Grandma’s old wedding dress to realize the pearls and lace of yesteryear do not stay encased within history.

There are a lot more ghosts than people realize; they just don’t notice them, as those translucent forgotten figures daintily nosh at our élan vital. I see them though. And the souls they eat. I don’t know why. My parents thought I had a lot of imaginary friends when I was little, and I did as well. I mean, if your parents call the misty forms wandering around imaginary friends, then you just take their word for it that that’s what they’re called. In their defense, I was a dreamy, lonely child in a big, old house by myself. It seemed only natural that I would make up imaginary friends.

My friend freaked out though when I invited him and his imaginary friend over for a play date. All was going fine until one of my “imaginary friends” closed the door. I swear his screams still ring in my ears. It didn’t take too long after that to realize my “imaginary friends” were a little different.

Most the times, ghosts don’t close doors. They don’t rattle chains. They don’t make blood fall from the walls. They don’t talk. They can moan a little on occasion, but not more than that, I think. It takes a lot of energy, I guess, and they would need a big meal first, like maybe a whole soul. But, as I said, that’s a bad idea, and I’ve never seen a ghost go as far to do that. Ghosts just kinda float around a lot, languidly nibbling at souls. Just add in some art and literature, and you’ve got yourself a lot of Victorian bohemians. Really, they are quite amiable companions for an introverted, melancholy little kid, especially since as soon as they realize you can see them, they don’t eat your spirit. It must be bad manners or something.

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why people just seem to be more tired as they age. I kept my ghost buddies off my parents when I still lived with them both, but even then, their spirits were threadbare and worn. They wore them heavily, like a cilice of steel wool. Even when my parents smiled, I could see through their teeth and thinning soul to the empty echo of a chest where a shrunken heart lugubriously beats. You can see why I was a bit dark as a child.

It freaked me out as a kid to see all the adults walking around with shredded souls. It made me afraid to grow up. Of course, not only ghosts do a number on our souls. We are quite capable of destroying them ourselves, the way we throw ourselves into temporal pleasures, seeking some release from the ennui of a meaningless existence. However, being able to see your soul fray when you do that kind of stuff puts a damper on your enthusiasm for it all. I mean, where is the fun in drinking the day away when all you can see is your spirit withering?

Yeah, I’m not quite a hoot at parties.

However, the old veterans are the worst. Their vaporous, ephemeral soul barely clings to that thousand yard stare. It’s horrifying. There’s just something so utterly wrong about it. If everyone could see souls, I think, no one would go to war. Not after seeing what it does to even the people that survive it.

I don’t know much about death, but I think having your spirit slowly undermined and sloughed off layer by infinitesimal layer is worse than shrugging it off in one get-go.

The weird thing with this whole ghost and souls thing for me is that I’m not religious at all. I’ve been an atheist since by parents split and were too ground up by depression to make me go listen to someone describing how most of the people I love will face some eternal punishment for believing in the wrong dude in the sky. I study science. I have a degree in chemistry, but, I just can’t explain what I see. I know full well, I could be crazy, and if I told people, they would think I’m crazy, but, I don’t really think I am. I don’t know why.

I guess all we can rely on in this life is our fallible senses. They tell me the sky is blue, that there’s ground beneath my feet, that my stentorious professor really could use a breath mint for the poor students on the front row, and that there are ghosts.

Honestly, I don’t know how to fit souls into my worldview. I can kinda see them on animals, very faintly on plants in the right light. I tried to see them on bacteria whenever I get the chance with a microscope, but then again, I can’t see souls through glasses or photos, so I’m not terribly surprised when it doesn’t work.

As far as I can tell, we each carry some sort of life force, and when we die, it doesn’t all decay at once. It can stick around a bit, by nibbling at the life forces of those still around. I think animals and plants can’t figure that out though, judging by the late Neptune the goldfish and all the flowers in vases I seen, so their souls go kaput pretty darn quickly. I’m not sure what souls are made of or how I would go about figuring that out. I mean, it’s not really a question I can discuss with my scientist friends without sounding like a lunatic. I’ve tried checking campus ghosts out with Geiger counters, spectrophotometers, and even GC-MS, with no dice.

Nevertheless, I think they’re real.

Yeah, I know, not terribly scientific, but it’s kinda hard to get significant data with my own wide margin of error in being seemingly the only person alive to observe them. I’ve talked to the ghost hunters; they don’t know anything. It’s physically painful to be around most of them as I can feel my intelligence diffusing away, as if pulled by the steep concentration gradient. I think there must be some other people who can see ghosts, but I’ve never run into any of them. All the souls I see are pockmarked and nibbled on.

Maybe I’ll find someone else who can see them too eventually, and we can figure out some scientific mumbo jumbo for elucidating everything.

Until then, it’s just me and the ghosties.

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