Moving House

Sam prides himself on Serenity. Nowhere in the poltergeist handbook does it state meditation and calmness of the soul stand against the rules. Difficult to maintain, yes. Impossible, no.

Still, work is work at the end of the day. It has to be done, it pays the bills. If one should be expected to send the washing machine hurtling full speed across the kitchen, ripping the socket from the wall, while the housewife races around in a circle with a terrified cat clinging to the top of her head, so be it.

Sam could do that sitting cross legged on the ceiling.

If duty calls to transform the TV into a swirling vortex of squirming demons, peeling the skin from screaming girls, reaching with clawed fingers through the screen, snagging the carpet, leaving scorch marks on the walls, Sam finds its best to use ear phones combined with soothing bird songs to maintain his constant peace of mind.

If he has to blow up the toaster, he does so while changing the red of the flames to orange, melting to yellow, sinking to blue, and finally settling on a sweet mixture of violet that lulls him into a deep, restful sleep.

He also finds shuffling things is wonderfully therapeutic, so uses the kitchen knives, skipping them from hand to hand, occasionally nailing the doorframe or sending them spinning towards the intruders.

Of course, with Sam about, intruders never last long. They move in, talk about how beautiful the place is, make plans to rip the tangled weeds from the garden, and sow daffodils and crap like that.

Night one, Sam chants to the spiders—a spell designed to infuse him with a sense of honest wellbeing. It has the opposite effect on the spiders, though. Their feet burn, and their bodies sizzle, and they swarm from all the nooks and crannies, up the walls, across the ceiling, nine times out of ten, plummeting onto the sleeping people in their beds.

That alone can be the bread-winner.

Sam’s paid on commission, see.

Night two is usually bath night. Sam loves the gentle flicker of candlelight. Soft amber on the walls. Soothing aroma therapy, accompanied by the pop-pop-pop of the shower curtain ripping from the rail, and the screams of the intruder as he or she claws the floor, and tries to pry the locked door from its hinges. They usually smash the mirror to stop it from bleeding. They try to hold the toilet seat down when it erupts like a volcano, then end up huddled in the corner, watching the bath mat burn and a cloak of ice envelop the room.

Sam nestles in the nice warm waters, head thrown back on a bath pillow, singing to himself, rubbing lavender oil into his vapour. Perfect relaxation.

Not many intruders see night three, but if they do, Sam throws a romantic dinner for one. He’s nice like that, and likes to treat himself.

He sets the table all neatly and bursts every light bulb in the house to ensure a romantic atmosphere. He’s discovered if he rattles the doors in just the right way they create melodies that soothe him.

The food of choice has to be gently smoked to give it that perfect flavour for his palate. Good smoke, he finds, comes from exploding the sofa, suspending the meat from the ceiling, and slowly turning it to soak up all that goodness.

Sam eats, as the fire engines play a symphony that blends with the ever growing screams. Soon it will be payday.

Serenity, Sam finds, is no impossible task for a poltergeist. In fact, he often gets asked for tips, since he’s the best in the business. These furious poltergeists that go into a job seething with rage, burn themselves out. Sure, they do great for a few months, but soon they can’t even find the energy to wobble a photo frame.

Pathetic.

Peace is the answer to a long and happy haunting.

At least it was until the Jacksons moved in.

Sam’s eyes narrow at the very thought of the Jacksons. Her with her cute little arse. Him with his baby blue eyes. Pah.

They slept through the spiders. She blamed the cat when the dishes flipped upside down. He said a draft caused the rattling. Electric faults caused the fires. Lack of cleaning made the mirror bleed, and the washing machine, well, they bolted that to the floor.

It’s been two months now, and Sam’s unable to sleep in the day. He tosses and turns, tries counting sheep, and taking long, slow, comfortable breaths. Nothing works. He’s off is food, drops the knives when he shuffles them, has become so run down he has a cold and can’t smell his aroma therapies.

Serenity drains, and anger burns in his belly.

Serenity goes, and his nails bite into his palms.

Serenity fades, and hatred pulses through him.

And Sam uses all of this fury to gently wobble a photo frame.

Ω

Michelle Howarth  Michelle Howarth's website has publishing credits that include appearances in the Daikaijuzine, Drabblecast, Thaumatrope, Books for Monsters, Strange Publications Fifty-Two Stitches anthology, the Devil's Food anthology, Morpheus Tales Magazine, and Ballista Magazine, where she has been awarded first prize in their short story contest 2008. She also enjoys acting as submissions editor for Shock Totem magazine.

Other works by Michelle Howarth