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Saturday, July 11, 2015
July 11, 2015: Excerpts from "The Picture of the Ghost"
When I decided to pursue writing more seriously, I had science fiction on my mind, but sometimes the muse just drags you over into another direction. People who are not artistic don't really understand what writers mean when they talk about "the muse", because it's not something they have experienced for themselves. There is a force that drives us to write that we can't really explain, but it wakes us up in the middle of the night or takes possession of our thoughts in the middle of the sermon in church or sometimes transports us to amazing places when we're supposed to be taking that algebra exam. We try to shut it down so we can finish the task at hand, but there it is, pulling at us, grabbing our attention until we give in and start putting words down on paper. I was awakened this morning with ideas for a short story that I'm writing, and simply could not go back to sleep. My first wife Karen somehow got used to me getting up in the middle of the night and sitting down with a legal pad and a pencil, making notes about some song that I came up with, or a couple of verses of a poem that came to me, or sometimes the premise for a new story I wanted to write. My present wife Pam has a bit more trouble understanding that drive and does not go back to sleep as easily, so out of love and respect for her, I stifle the middle of the night inspirations and just hold on to them until a more reasonable time comes along.
At any rate, when I started my first serious story, it turned out to be about ghosts, a topic I would not have picked, but as I put words down on paper, I found that I actually like Jake, the main character and really wanted to tell his story in as entertaining a way as I could muster. I've never really known someone like him, but I'm from the south and love the people there, so it was easy for me to identify with him.
What got me started was watching TV shows like "Ghost Hunters" and "Ghost Adventures" where investigators with high tech equipment go into a building or area where disembodied voices and apparitions have been witnessed. They then use that equipment to try to get some kind of solid evidence of the ghosts and determine who they might be and why they might still be walking the earth.
After watching these shows for several years, I wondered one day if what they come up with might not be accurate. What if they were wrong in their interpretations of the sounds and sights that they were able to document? Thus was born the novelette, "The Picture of the Ghost", available on Amazon.com. (A novelette is simply a story that is too long to be called a short story, but not long enough to be a novella or novel. This story is 11,100 words.)
I am posting a few excerpts from the story for your inspection. I would love to hear what everyone thinks about it.
From "The Picture of the Ghost", as told by Jake:
"The funny thing about the passing of time when you are dead is that the days just seem to blur together until you are not really able to tell whether you have been there for a month or for a year, but I began to believe that I would spend all of eternity just walking back and forth between my old cell and the wooden bench that had become my home in the sun. I can’t say why I felt so compelled to keep up this routine but whenever I tried to change things up and do something different, it just did not feel right and I would find myself falling right back into the pattern. When my bench began to decay and fell to the ground, I found that it did not really make any difference. I would go out and sit like I always had for all that time, and probably looked frightful because rather than falling to the ground when I tried to sit, I found myself settling down into the same position I had always sat in. It is like my ghostly rear end would sit down on a ghostly facsimile of my old bench, and I would languish there, sitting in what must have appeared to be mid-air. It did not feel any different than usual to me, but I am certain that if anyone could have seen me, they would have found it very odd. Things went on like this for what seemed like forever until one day, others came, and they brought some of the strangest gear with them that I had ever seen."
A bit later in the story, Jake interacts with an odd contraption.
"Strangely, I felt a tingling run up the arm closest to the thing. It had been so long since I had felt... well, anything at all, that it surprised me to know that I could have any sensation at all. I tested the limits of the little contraption’s field and felt the tingling grow stronger and weaker as I moved closer and farther away respectively. I marveled at the feeling and wondered again what would happen if I were to make contact with the instrument. I lost awareness of everything except the lights as I eased my hand closer to the thing, feeling the strange electrical charge increase. Only inches away, I felt a pulling on my hand that became stronger with each ticking second. Somewhere in the far distance, I had a sense that Jeff was saying something else, but I was totally focused on the machine and the effect it was having on me. Suddenly, I felt my hand being sucked into the little box and realized that I couldn’t stop it. At that moment, I heard Danny ask another question."
Check out the story when you get a chance, and leave your comments. It was a fun story to write, and I think you will enjoy it.