Tonight, on Ghost Discovery – preview


This is a preview of my latest short story – available on my site, Amazon and wherever you might purchase your e-books


Tonight, on Ghost Discovery cover“Tonight on a special live edition of Ghost Discovery, Nick Carter and his band of ghost hunters take you inside the famous Ghost Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The museum is home to many haunted and cursed artifacts which Nick has collected during his twenty-year career as a paranormal investigator. The museum is currently one of the most haunted attractions in the country. Nick and his crew will give you unrestricted access as they investigate the spirits lurking in the museum tonight on Ghost Discovery.”

The promo for Ghost Discovery was replaced by a commercial for deodorant. The jingle always made Walter Chindi want to throw something at the television. Resisting the urge, Walter levered his bulk off of the couch and waddled to the kitchen. Cold, deep-dish pizza left over from dinner and a couple of beers would be the perfect thing to eat while Nick and the boys acted like babies. On every show, they panicked and ran from each thump or disembodied voice.

Walter could not understand them or any of the myriad ghost hunting shows which proliferated on the Vacation Channel. How could they spend their lives hunting for ghosts yet every time there was any activity, they screamed and ran like frightened children? Wasn’t that the exact thing they wanted to happen?

He took a massive bite of pizza and then added a second slice onto the paper plate for good measure. He lumbered back to the well-worn, sagging couch with his plate of food and two ice cold beers. The couch groaned as he lowered himself onto it. He was just in time for the commercials to end and the splash screen for the Ghost Discovery show to appear. Walter gobbled his first slice as the theme music played and the ghost hunters were introduced.

Nick Carter, intrepid paranormal investigator, was the star. He was an overacting man-child in Walter’s opinion. His longtime sidekick Andy came next. Andy had to be the most easily frightened man in America. The camera crew, whose names were unimportant to Walter, would follow the duo as they searched for evidence of life after death.

As the show progressed, the investigators moved from room to room in the Ghost Museum. Each room contained supposedly haunted artifacts. They examined each item with their electromagnetic field detectors and digital recorders. The goal was to capture ghost voices. Cameras, many of their own design, attempted to capture supernatural evidence. They examined haunted dolls, cursed jewelry boxes and the cleaver once used by the most notorious serial killer in Kentucky.

“Nick, look,” Andy shrilled. “We’ve got orbs!”

The television camera focused on the screen of Andy’s camera. It showed small white blobs floating near a mirror which had once hung in the famous Myrtles Plantation.

“Don’t you know how to use a camera?” Walter screamed at the television, spraying pizza crumbs onto the coffee table. “It’s freaking dust catching your IR light. You idiots wouldn’t know a ghost if it bit you in the ass.”

Walter didn’t watch ghost hunting shows to broaden his mind about the possibilities of life after death. He liked watching the hosts make fools of themselves while he berated them from the safety of his living room.

The host, Nick, took center screen in front of a staircase leading up to the ceiling.

“This staircase began life in the famous Winchester Mystery House. It was reported that dark entities were often seen moving up and–”

His monologue abruptly ended as a loud ringing thump, like a hammer striking wood, echoed from somewhere behind him. Nick’s face displayed shock and his eyes almost bugged out of his head.
The host yelped and ran off camera screaming, “What the *bleep* was that?”

“You fucking coward!” Walter was livid. He hated their displays of fear more than anything. “Pay me to be on the show, I won’t run from a stupid noise.”

The cast ran about the room excitedly, each asking the other if they had heard the noise. Another loud bang launched them into fresh paroxysms of terror.

“Jesus Christ,” Walter screamed. “What’s wrong with–”

A stabbing pain lanced through Walter’s left shoulder. The muscles, deep beneath layers of fat, spasmed across his back and chest. It felt like someone hit him in the sternum with a baseball bat and he convulsed in pain. The half-chewed piece of pizza in his mouth tumbled down his throat and lodged itself at the top of his windpipe. Walter struggled to draw a breath while hammering pain continued to assault his chest. His vision blurred and the room seemed to draw in around him. Walter clawed at the arm of the couch, knocking his plate of food and the half-empty bottle of beer to the floor. Darkness filled his vision and he lost consciousness.

 

***

 

Walter regained consciousness to the sounds of the Ghost Discovery team screaming about demons. His chest didn’t hurt and he no longer felt the blockage in his throat. The pizza must have become dislodged when he passed out.

“That was unpleasant.”

The digital clock above the television indicated that the show was moving into the second of its scheduled three hours. He had been unconscious for over forty-five minutes. Walter was going to have to clean up the toppled pizza and fetch a new piece if he was going to enjoy the rest of the show. He stood up and felt something tug at the base of his skull. It felt as if someone had grabbed him by the hair and attempted to keep him from standing. But, it wasn’t exactly like the hair being tugged. It was more like something which passed through his hair and into the base of his brain. He heard a loud pop and the tugging sensation disappeared. He groped at the base of his skull and turned around seeking the source of whatever had snagged him.

Walter screamed when he looked at the couch. Sprawled on the red and yellow plaid sofa was a grossly obese man. He was wearing the same stained wife beater tee shirt as Walter and the same blue sweat pants with a ragged hole in the left knee. His face was locked in a rictus as if he had been in agony and then had frozen in mid scream. The eyes bulged and a blue tongue protruded through equally blue lips. Walter screamed louder when his mind finally accepted that the body on the couch was his own, he was dead.

“Holy shit, I’m a ghost.”

Walter heard Nick Carter expounding on theories about which type of energy comprised ghostly forms. He spun toward the television and pointed a sausage-like finger at the screen. Walter’s anger could even override the horror of discovering his own death.

“Hah! You don’t know shit. I’m a real ghost now and you don’t have a clue what it’s like. If I were there, I’d show you a thing or three.”

Why couldn’t he be there? It would be a hoot to show up during their live investigation and make himself known. He could tell the entire world how idiotic the cast was. He, Walter Chindi, would be the most famous ghost in history. But, how could he get to Las Vegas? Vegas was over eight hours away by car and he was pretty sure that ghosts couldn’t drive cars. Could he walk there? The live show was only scheduled for three hours. One was already gone, and there was no way he could walk over five hundred miles in the next couple hours. Walter screamed in frustration. Here he was, a real live ghost yet unable to prove his existence on national television because he was too far away.

“Damn it, it’s not fair.” Walter stomped around the living room, ranting. “I should be there. I’d show them what a real ghost is like. I’d be a household name.”

Walter kicked the coffee table. His foot passed through the table like smoke but several empty beer bottles rocked wildly where his foot passed. He stormed up to the screen. Nick Carter’s weak-chinned face babbled about magnetic fields and static charges.

“I know more than you,” Walter screamed. “I should be there.”

Walter’s vision wavered and the room grew dim. Could he somehow be having another heart attack as a ghost? His face was mere inches from the television screen. He felt the electrical field surrounding the image brushing his face. It tickled like ants crawling over him. The entire world flipped end for end and there was a flash of light which blinded him. A moment later he was standing in a dark room.

“What the hell?”

Walter turned in a circle, looking around. This was definitely not his single-wide trailer. The room where he found himself was small and divided in half by a velvet rope held aloft on metal posts. Wallpaper with an involved pattern of leaves and swirling curlicues hung above dark wooden wainscoting. The side of the ropes where he found himself was empty of furniture or other items but an open door stood at each end of the room. Beyond the rope was a large curio cabinet filled with skulls and shards of pottery. There was a sign in front of the cabinet but Walter couldn’t make out the text. He found it odd, he could clearly see the skulls and pottery but everything else in the room was obscured by darkness. The gloom was so deep that the lettering on the sign was unreadable. Walter squinted in vain at the sign for several long seconds until the sound of voices reached him.

“Our next exhibit contains the evilest and most dangerous artifact in the museum.” He knew that voice; it was Nick Carter, ghost idiot.

Walter heard the voice echoing down the corridor beyond the room. He was about to head toward it when he had an idea. He was a ghost, right? Why did he have to follow the same path that the tourists took through the museum? He could walk through the walls. Walter straightened to his full six feet in height and, wearing a smug look, turned and marched into the wall. Walter walked at full speed into the wood and plaster surface which did not act like smoke before his ghostly form. His nose crumpled against the plaster and he bounced from the wall exactly as he would if he had walked into it as a living man.

“Did you hear that?” Sidekick Andy’s voice squealed from several rooms away.

Walter staggered away from the wall rubbing his nose. How the hell could the wall stop him, and more importantly why had it hurt? He was a ghost for fuck’s sake. Walter reached out a meaty hand to one of the posts holding aloft the velvet rope but his hand passed through the metal and the rope as if they didn’t exist. If he could pass through the post, he knew he could walk through the wall. Maybe he needed to try harder. He hunkered down and ran at the wall to give it one more try. He slammed into it as solidly as before but with a much more painful result. He bounced from the solid surface and staggered backward. He passed through the insubstantial rope and then through the cabinet. A skull rocked on the shelf and tumbled to the floor, shattering into a hundred pieces.

“There it is again,” Andy shouted in the distance.

“Alright already,” Walter yelled at the walls. “I get it. I’ll follow the path. Jesus, I don’t even get a break as a ghost.”

Alternately rubbing his aching nose and right shoulder, Walter walked along the roped path in search of the Ghost Discovery crew.

 

Walter strolled through three rooms filled with strangely luminous items. He followed the sounds of the film crew in the distance. He knew from experience with the show that the rooms were pitch black. He could still make out the walls and floors as if they were faintly glowing. There were at least one or two items in each room which glowed as brightly as if there was a spotlight focused on them.

“I guess these are the items that are actually haunted,” he said.

The voices grew louder until he heard Nick’s voice from around the corner.

“This exhibit holds what appear to be innocuous clay jugs but they are Babylonian demon traps.”

It sounded like Nick’s cut-away lecture for the camera before the crew began their investigation.

“The Chaldeans would first make two clay bowls which were inscribed with mystical spells written in Aramaic on the entire inner surface. The two bowls would then be joined before being fired. This formed a vessel which could trap the demons. If you’ll notice, there are more symbols spiraling around the outside of the bowl to this small hole in the top. Demons had no choice but to read the magical script which pulled them into this hole and they’d become trapped.”

“So it’s like a roach motel,” Andy said with a chuckle. “Demons check in but they can’t check out.”

“Yeah,” Nick said. “But these are not insects. Demons are dangerous supernatural entities. We’ve all been scratched and had our emotions affected by demonic forces over the years. This is not something you want to mess with. Remember folks, this is dangerous work we’re about to undertake.”

Walter turned the corner to encounter the Ghost Discovery team crowding a small room. The camera crew huddled behind the velvet ropes while Nick and Andy stood on the far side of the room. Two narrow, chest-high pedestals topped by a pair of oblate spheres were the only artifacts present. Nick addressed a camera while Andy waved his EMF meter around the pair of ceramic spheres. The spheres didn’t appear special to Walter, they were visibly glowing to his eyes but not brightly. The sphere on the left had a dull orange glow pulsing through a hole in the top. The other was uniformly dark inside.

“I’m getting spikes like crazy,” Andy squealed.

“Of course you are, idiot,” Walter said. “I just came into the room.”

Nick turned away from the television camera, raised his full-spectrum imager and swept the room.

“I see some light anomalies near Andy,” he said. “Andy, turn on your Spirit-vox.”

Andy pulled a hockey puck sized device from a pocket and switched it on. He placed it on the floor and backed away. Pulsing static filled the room as the Spirit-vox cycled through the electromagnetic bands in search of any voices from beyond.

“I can see you around my friend,” Nick said. “Can you speak into that device and identify yourself?”

Walter sauntered up beside Nick and looked at the display on the ghost hunter’s camera. Small white dots fluttered around Andy. He looked at the other man standing beside the demon traps but there was nothing around him. He was the only ghost in the room.

“You idiots,” he laughed. “There’s nothing there at all.”

He reached around Nick and waved his hand in front of the camera lens but nothing appeared on the screen.

“Wow, so much for your fancy camera. It doesn’t see ghosts at all.”

He attempted to bat the camera from Nick’s hand. It would be a hoot to watch the host scream when his precious device was ripped from his grip by a real ghost. His hand passed through the camera and Nick’s hand as if they weren’t there. Walter felt a tingle as his hand passed and the screen on the camera went black.

“Did you see that?” Nick’s voice brimmed with excitement. “The batteries just went flat.”

“Those were new batteries, weren’t they?” Andy’s voice rose as he edged toward his trademarked panic attack.

“I put in fresh ones just before we came in.” Nick turned back to the television camera. “Spirits can affect our batteries. We think they drain the power from them to give themselves a boost of energy which allows them to interact with the physical world.”

He turned in a circle, surveying the room as if he might see a ghost.

“Are you here? Can you speak to us? Tell us your name.”

Finally, Walter was going to get to have his national fame. He puffed himself up to his full height and walked through the velvet ropes to stand next to the Spirit-vox.

“Hello America, I’m Walter Chindi.”

Static continued to pulse from the box but no trace of his voice emerged.

“You took our battery power, now use it to speak to us,” Nick called out.

“I already did, asshole. I’m Walter Chindi. Chindi. C. H. I. N. D. I.”

Again no trace of his voice came through the Spirit-vox.

“Great, it’s all a fucking lie. None of your crap works.”

“Can you touch this device and make the needle move?” Andy waved his EMF meter to and fro in front of him.

“You assholes,” Walter screamed at the ghost hunters. “You lying fakers. I hope you all die.”

“Die,” said a ghostly voice from the Spirit-vox. It sounded like Walter’s normal voice but as if it was coming from far away.

“Die! It said die.” Andy backpedaled away from the Spirit-vox holding his EMF meter like a protective shield.

The box had transmitted his voice. Walter wanted to weep for joy.

“Yes, I’m here. It’s me, Walter Chindi.”

Static was the only response from the Spirit-vox. How had it caught the one word but nothing else? Walter wanted to scream or punch something and then it hit him, anger. He had been angry when he said he wanted the team to die. Was anger the key to being heard? He leaned over the Spirit-vox and thought about everything he had ever seen these idiots do on their show. The mincing cowardice, the holier than thou pontificating, the lectures as if they actually knew something. He hated these men, hated them with a passion. The only person he hated worse was his ex-wife Louise. That bitch could rot in the deepest hell. She could suffer torments for all eternity and he would laugh at her predicament. Merely picturing her bony face with its long ski jump nose made him want to scream.

He screamed his name at the Spirit-vox.

“Chindi,” repeated the box in his voice.

“It said chindi,” Andy said, retreating further from the device. “What does that mean?”

“If I remember correctly,” Nick said. “A chindi is a Navajo ghost which is the worst aspects of a deceased person. It could be that these demon traps contain a chindi spirit.”

“Idiots!” Walter screamed at the host and his shout echoed through the Spirit-vox.

Fine, if these fools were going to make stupid assumptions, he’d teach them a lesson. They’d rue the day they ever encountered the ghost of Walter Chindi.

“Devil,” he shouted as he stomped around the room. The Spirit-vox faithfully echoed each word. “Satan. I want your souls.”

Walter laughed maniacally. The entire crew backed away in obvious terror. He wanted to make Andy his crowning achievement. He ran toward the cowering man screaming.

“I’m going to get you, Andy!”

He raced across the room toward the shrieking man as his voice boomed from the Spirit-vox. He let out a bestial roar to enhance the terror of his victim. Walter ran through the left-hand pedestal and the demon trap rocked wildly in his wake. He continued roaring up until he was right in the terrified man’s face and then he heard a loud crash behind him.

Walter turned to see the sphere which had been on the pedestal now lay in pieces on the floor.

“Crap,” he whispered.

He hadn’t wanted to do that, but the reaction of the investigation team more than made up for the accidental destruction. Every person in the small room let out a shrill cry and fled through the nearest available door. They didn’t even pause to collect all their gear. Walter could hear their frantic shouts receding into the depths of the museum.

“Fuck you,” he yelled and the abandoned Spirit-vox echoed his sentiment to the empty room.

Walter laughed and strolled toward the door in pursuit of the crew and further psychological torture. The only sound in the vacant room was the pulsing static of the Spirit-vox.

“Free,” a deep voice whispered from the Spirit-vox.

 

***

 

Walter wandered from room to room of the museum in search of the Ghost Discovery crew.

“Come out, come out wherever you are,” he sing-songed as he walked.

He felt wonderful, buoyant even. Being dead was the best thing that had ever happened to him. He couldn’t remember a time when he felt so good. His joints didn’t hurt. He didn’t feel winded from simply walking across the room and he wasn’t hungry. He wondered if a ghost could lose weight.

“What the hell was that thing?” Andy’s voice echoed along the hallway from a room in the distance.

“I think there was an actual demon in that bowl and it got out,” Nick said. Unintelligible mutters, presumably the crew, joined their conversation.

Walter laughed with malicious joy. He had scared the crap out those fakers. He picked up his pace toward the sound of their voices. It was time to play some more pranks on them. This was going to be their best show ever. By the end of the night, he was going to be sure that America–no–the world, knew who Walter Chindi was.

“I think we should get out of here,” Andy said. His voice was high pitched with a quaver; he was still terrified from his ordeal.

“No,” Nick said. “We owe it to our viewers to document what just happened and see what else might occur.”

He looked at one of the cameramen. “Are we clear?”

The man glanced at his camera and then nodded, they were currently off the air for a commercial break.

“Think about the ratings, Andy. Look, I’ll be honest; the Vacation Channel is talking about not renewing us. With all this, we’re guaranteed another season.”

“You’re the boss,” Andy said. “But I still think we should boogie.”

Walter entered a room with a wall-sized LCD screen and a camera festooned with bizarrely shaped antennae. A sign below the camera read:

Is there a ghost near you?

Stand in front of the camera and watch the screen to see if something is there.

 

The equipment was active and the Ghost Discovery investigators along with two of their three camera crew were visible on the large screen. The third camera operator had fled in a different direction than the rest, a future torture opportunity for Walter. The television crew stood idly, adjusting their equipment. Occasional glowing dust motes floated around them. Nick leaned against the wall appearing exhausted. Andy stood nearby, bent at the waist with his hands resting on his knees.

“This is bad, man,” Andy said. “That thing said Satan. It’s the devil, man.”

“I doubt that,” Nick said. His voice held a long-suffering note.

He had dealt with his companion’s lack of bravado for years. Andy’s onscreen antics kept their ratings high so Nick was willing to suffer the same tired overreactions.

“I think there’s another entity here, malicious yes, but it’s just pretending to be the devil to frighten us.”

Walter was surprised. This was the most logical thing he had ever heard Nick say. Why didn’t he say stuff like that on camera? Walter would have had more respect for him if he spoke logically rather than hyperbolically all the time.

Andy didn’t appear to be buying the logical line. The cameraman signaled to Nick that they were live once more. Walter glanced at the LCD screen and then crossed the room and stood over the bowed ghost hunter. He embraced his anger, hoping that the same trick which let his voice come through would allow him to appear for the camera. He struck his most menacing pose over Andy. This would be hysterical if it worked.

Walter dug deep into his memories of real and perceived slights, snide comments, and looks of disgust by beautiful women. He embraced everything which life had stacked against him and felt a pressure build in his head. It was becoming easier to summon his outrage every time he tried and he felt the rush of energy fill him. One of the cameramen tapped on the monitor screen of his camera which went dark as the batteries drained.

On the enormous LCD screen, a purple fog coalesced beside Andy. It swirled and pulsed with flashes of light, growing more distinct by the second. Soon a broad human shape stood revealed over Andy. Its legs were spread wide and its arms were held aloft as if preparing to strike the hapless ghost hunter. Walter was thankful that there were few details in the ghostly image. He wasn’t sure how terrifying rolls of fat would be to the investigators. His bulk served to create a massive image made of fog and flashing lights. It was suitably intimidating.

“Oh my God,” Nick said.

Andy glanced at his boss and, noting the direction of his stare, turned to look at the wall screen. Andy squeaked, it wasn’t a shout or even a scream, he squeaked like a tiny mouse encountering a cat. His eyes were so wide it appeared they would pop from his head. He threw himself sideways and landed on the floor on his butt. Andy scrambled away from his prior location. He kept swiveling his head between the spot where Walter stood invisible to him and the wall screen which showed the billowing purple mist reaching for him.

Walter roared like a lion but there was no Spirit-vox to echo his voice in this room so his vocal theatrics were wasted on his victims. He lumbered toward the scuttling Andy, He made each movement deliberate and overstated for the greatest effect on the LCD screen. The screen revealed a roiling purple mist shape slowly advancing on the ghost hunter. Andy continued to back away until his shoulders encountered the wall. The man whimpered, a high-pitched sound from deep in his throat which thrilled Walter to hear. He was terrifying Andy. He, the pathetic fat man who was an object of derision, was now a terrifying monster. He laughed maniacally at the thought.

“Holy Jesus,” Nick said. “There’s more of them. Tell me you’re getting this.”

The remaining functional cameramen grunted an affirmative as he swung his television camera back and forth across the scene.

Walter halted in his advance. What was Nick talking about? He looked around the room but the only occupants were the Ghost Discovery team and him. Nick focused on the wall monitor and pointed a trembling finger toward the screen.

Walter could see the living men spread out across the room and his mist form standing over the prone Andy. It took a minute but finally, it sank in, there was a shadow behind him. Ghosts didn’t cast shadows, did they?

The shadow was man-shaped and extremely tall. Its head brushed the ceiling of the room. Long legs and arms extended from a rail-thin body. The limbs were twice the length of a normal man’s and seemed to bend in unnatural angles as they wrapped around the walls. The limbs gave the shadow the appearance of an enormous, four-legged spider. The head of the shadow was bulbous and misshapen. It looked like a turnip whose taproot served as the shadow’s long, pointed chin. Thin projections extended from the head appearing like branches or roots. Two large ovals made of blackness far deeper than the shadow itself dominated the head. Where those black pits the things eyes?

Walter looked at the wall behind him but could not see any sign of another ghost or even the shadow. It was only visible on the wall monitor. He waved his hand toward where the shadow should be but encountered nothing but air.

“Weird,” he said. “Maybe it’s just a camera glitch.”

A low, clicking growl came from right behind his ear and Walter jumped several feet away from the source. He finally understood how Andy felt when strange sounds spooked him.

Walter whipped his head from side to side, attempting to spot his invisible companion. On the screen, the shadow moved toward him. It rocked from side to side as its limbs bent at multiple, misplaced joints to scuttle after him. Walter kept his eyes focused on the screen; it was his only way to see the invisible shadow creature. He backed away from Andy, returning to the door where he had entered the room. The shadow advanced on him. Its arm moved through the cameraman with the dead camera. He screamed as the shadow passed through him.

“Oh my God, it’s cold. It’s like ice.”

He held his hand up for the others to see. Frost coated the skin and hair of his hand and forearm.

A deep chuckle, like something echoing up from deep within a pit, filled the room. The ghost hunters did not react to the sound; it seemed that only Walter could hear the thing’s voice.

“Hey man,” Walter said as he backed away. “I’m one of you. I’m a ghost. I don’t want any problems. OK?”

Walter kept his eyes glued to the LCD, hoping for some sign that the shadow understood. The shadow took another step toward him. Its left hand, almost as wide as Walter’s waistline, splayed on the floor mere inches from his feet. The shadow’s right arm moved forward but it didn’t come to rest on the floor with its mate. Instead, the pointed shadow fingers continued toward Walter. On the screen, the claw-like fingers raked through the purple mist of Walter’s form. The mist blackened and wisped away from the main bulk of Walter’s ghost form.

To Walter, the effect was much more horrific. The flesh of his stomach split open in four wide gouges caused by no visible source. It was more painful than anything he had ever felt. Stabbing pain lanced from his belly to his spine and he felt like part of him was being drawn out.

Walter had once had a nail embedded in his forearm. When it was removed in the emergency room it had felt like the flesh had tried to hold onto the metal of the nail. He had felt the tugging of the metal against the cells of his muscle as it reluctantly came free. This was a similar feeling. He felt the movement of the thing’s claws through his belly. They tugged against his mass as they tore through his ghostly flesh. Unbearable pain racked him as the foreign objects passed through.

He screamed as the agony reached its peak. The invisible claws exploded out the other side trailing a luminous liquid. Walter’s belly shook under the force of the attack. The ghostly flesh hung in tatters. He watched the sundered material evaporate into the air around him. A wave of nausea and weakness washed over him. Somehow the shadow had harmed him. Could he die as a ghost?

Walter turned and ran.

***

Want to see what happens next? You can purchase the full short story either from my website – GET IT!

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