Flash Fiction Challenge – No Country For Old Ghosts

So here’s the challenge, and what the hell, right?

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No Country For Old Ghosts

The ghosts appeared before her in a sudden rush of cold air, semi-translucent, shadowy figures in dated clothes with dark,haunted eyes. Heather gave them her best professional smile, and asked, “Can I help you?”

The male ghost, who looked more than a little like a nineteenth century miner, replied. “We used to haunt the Westmore building on Southern, but it was torn down and replaced by a Whole Foods.”

“We tried to haunt it,” the female ghost said. She looked like a nineteenth century governess, which was kind of par for the course for this kind of spirit. “But it was depressing.”

“And frightening,” the male ghost said. “Do you know how much they wanted for melons? Who would pay that?”

She nodded. This was common – gentrification was not only pricing people out of big cities, but it was forcing ghosts out of their traditional homes. It was a niche market for sure, but Heather prided herself on being the best real estate agent for ghosts, spirits, and other traditional paranormals in all of Seattle. She pulled out her laptop, and quickly called up her slide show of available homes, apartment buildings, and warehouse properties. “This just became available in the Queen Anne district. It’s a one family home, owned by a troubled middle aged couple with two teenage daughters. If you’re looking to branch into poltergeist activities, this would be ideal. This home has its original wiring, so it should be easy to make lights flicker, and a rising damp issue that will be ideal for house settling noises.”

They looked at the slow scroll of the home’s exterior, as well as the telephoto pictures of the Wilson family. They tilted their heads and grimaced. Some of the more traditional ghosts didn’t like to switch to the more active poltergeist mode. It was undoubtedly more fun, and could bring a reality show to the house, but the older ghosts could be very set in their ways.

“I don’t think it’s us,” the female ghost said.

Heather nodded, not surprised, and advanced the slide show. “This is a run down apartment complex on the east side. Poorly maintained, extremely drafty, with creaky staircases and a plethora of people in a lower socio-economic status. There’s everything from struggling young families to pensioners, and everyone in between.The downside here is the likelihood of a reality TV show visiting is less than zero, and you may have to compete with other ghosts for space.There are technically three officially attached to the property, but stragglers do try and set up without an official invitation.”

“Promising,” the woman said. “But are there young children? They’re shrill and untidy.”

“Then you may like a new place that just came on the market.It used to be the site of a seafood cannery which, in the early days, was known for many workplace accidents. It’s been converted into a bunch of artist’s lofts. Perfect for haunting a cross section of adults, from younger to not so young, and should be a good way of potentially immortalizing yourselves in a fictional work. You will have to be accustomed to heavy pot smoke, displays of substance abuse, and extremely dramatic break ups. There might also be a suicide attempt or two. I don’t know if you have philosophical objections to that.”

The man scowled. “Ugh. Artists.” He said it like a curse.

“Maybe … maybe we were too hasty about the apartment block,” the woman admitted.

Heather clicked back to the pictures of the dingy tenement, and wondered if that’s what they were called anymore. It felt like an old fashioned word. Being around ghosts had made her vocabulary more distinctive, even though they didn’t talk very much. That was one of the reasons she preferred them over the living. “Another feature of this one is the mold and mildew,” she said, showing one of the creepiest pictures of a staircase outside a horror movie. “Some of it has a reddish hue, so with a little effort, you can make it seem like the walls are bleeding.”

“Ooh, I always wanted to do that,” the woman said.

Heather smiled, because she knew she had them now. Bleeding walls was a very rare feature, and who didn’t enjoy a little drama now and then? You had to keep life – and afterlife – a little different. Eternity was a long time to deal with boredom.

Which was precisely why she had instructions that her body be burned after death, and her remains salted. While she might like be a realtor to the undead, there was no way in fucking hell she ever wanted to be one of them.

**

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